Cover image for Information theory and evolution
Information theory and evolution
Avery, John, 1933-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
River Edge, N.J. : World Scientific, [2003]

Physical Description:
xiii, 217 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QH366.2 .A94 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This highly interdisciplinary book discusses the phenomenon of life, including its origin and evolution (and also human cultural evolution), against the background of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and information theory. Among the central themes is the seeming contradiction between the second law of thermodynamics and the high degree of order and complexity produced by living systems. This paradox has its resolution in the information content of the Gibbs free energy that enters the biosphere from outside sources, as the author shows. The role of information in human cultural evolution is another focus of the book. One of the final chapters discusses the merging of information technology and biotechnology into a new discipline -- bio-information technology.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Avery (Univ. of Copenhagen) has prepared this little book of interesting insights into the phenomenon of life, its origins, and its evolution in light of our knowledge of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and information theory. The book's nine well-organized and solidly researched chapters begin with two chapters that introduce evolutionary thought through the work of Darwin. Chapter 3 provides the link between the classical view of evolution and molecular biology. The remaining chapters probe various aspects of information theory leading up to a chapter on bioinformatics. For those interested in pursuing the various topics further, each chapter contains a rich collection of suggested readings. There are two appendixes; the first provides details of Boltzmann's work on entropy and missing information, and the second is an all-too-brief presentation on biosemiotics, the study of signs, communications, and information in living organisms. Thoughtfully constructed index. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through professionals; two-year technical program students. J. Beidler University of Scranton