HONORS 493 - College Honors Seminar
Section: 001 Complexity & Emergence
Term: WN 2008
Subject: Honors Program (HONORS)
Department: LSA Honors
Advisory Prerequisites:
Permission of instructor or of the Honors Director.
Other Course Info:
May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:

Prerequisites: Either familiarity with programming (no particular language required), or a course in finite mathematics. All technical topics will be defined in class.

Course Organization: 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: Much of our investigation will center on complex adaptive systems (cas). A cas consists of adaptive (learning) agents with conditional interactions. Typical examples are the central nervous system, a market, the immune system, and the internet. Because of evolution and adaptation, cas exhibit perpetual novelty in their structure and behavior.

"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.

The order of topics will depend partly upon particular interests of the class, but the following topics, at least, will be covered

  1. Performance systems [sets of condition/action rules].
  2. Signal-passing systems — their pervasiveness from cell biology to language.
  3. Parallelism — systems with many rules active simultaneously.
  4. Agent-based models (models with multiple interacting agents).
  5. Credit assignment — strengthening stage-setting and predictive rules.
  6. Rule discovery — genetic algorithms.
  7. Building blocks — their role in everything from perception to invention.

Texts: Hidden Order (paperback) and Emergence (paperback). Both published by Perseus Press and authored by J.H. Holland

HONORS 493 - College Honors Seminar
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
3LSA Hnrs
TuTh 9:00AM - 11:00AM
Note: meets with EECS 594.001, Psych447.001, Psych808.006 This section is NOT a mini-course and meets all term for 3 credits.
003 (SEM)
5LSA Hnrs
M 2:00PM - 5:00PM
Note: Mini-course for 1 credit. Meets w/InstHum 411.001 and ArtDes 301.001 on Mondays, 3/3-3/31. Registration for Honors part of course will be by application in 1330 Mason,
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