When I started with this book several years ago I originally intended to write an introduction to mathematical systems theory
for social scientists. Yet the more I thought about systems theory on the one side and theoretical sociology on the other
the more I became convinced that the classical mathematical tools are not very well suited for the problems of sociology.
Then I became acquainted with the researches on complex systems by the Santa Fe Institute and in particular with cellular
automata, Boolean networks and genetic algorithms. These mathematically very simple but extremely efficient tools are, in
my opinion, very well appropriate for modeling social dynamics. Therefore I tried to reformulate several classical problems
of theoretical sociology in terms of these formal systems and outline new possibilities for a mathematical sociology which
is able to join immediately on the great traditions of theoretical sociology. The result is this book; whether I succeeded
with it is of course up to the readers. As the readers will perceive, the book could not have been written by me alone but
only by the joint labors of the computer group at the Interdisciplinary Center of Research in Higher Education at the University
of Essen. The members of the group, Christina Stoica, Jom Schmidt and Ralph Kier, are named in several subchapters as co-authors.
Yet even more important than their contributions to this book were the permanent discussions with them and their patience
with my new and very speculative ideas. Many thanks.