Either familiarity with programming (no particular language required) or a course in finite mathematics is assumed. All technical topics will be defined in class. This is a highly interactive class with students from all over campus. You will be expected to contribute to the class discussion and will be graded accordingly. There will be a final paper which you will present to the class. Topics: "Complexity" and "emergence" are difficult topics with different meanings in different areas. Rather than trying to provide precise definitions of these terms, we will develop a range of ideas, examples, and intuitions that provide a deeper understanding of these terms. Much of our investigation will center on complex adaptive systems (cas). A cas consists of adaptive (learning) agents with conditional interactions. Typical examples are a market, the immune system, the central nervous system, and the Internet. The order of topics will depend partly upon particular interests of the class, but the following topics, at least, will be covered:
Texts: Hidden Order (paperback) and Emergence (paperback). Both published by Perseus Press and authored by J.H. Holland
- Performance systems [sets of condition/action rules].
- Message-passing systems -- their pervasiveness from Cell biology to language.
- Parallelism -- systems with many rules active simultaneously
- Agent-based models (models with multiple interacting agents).
- Credit assignment -- strengthening stage-setting and predictive rules.
- Rule discovery -- genetic algorithms.
- Building blocks -- their role in everything from perception to invention.