HONORS 493 - College Honors Seminar
Section: 001 Complexity & Emergence
Term: WN 2010
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 developed in class from first principles.

If you are an LSA Honors student, you can register for this course without permission of the instructor or Honors dept.

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: Many of our most difficult contemporary problems depend upon an understanding of systems consisting of agents that adapt and learn: ecosystems, markets, language acquisition and evolution, political systems, the Internet, nervous systems, immune systems, reaction networks in biological cells, and so on. These systems, called complex adaptive systems (cas), exhibit properties such as "emergent" structures, "complex" conditional interactions, perpetual novelty in behavior, and diversity in agents (there is no "best" agent). Because of these properties, cas require novel techniques for analysis and understanding. This class will introduce and explore techniques, such as agent-based modeling, that have been most effective in helping us to explore and understand the behavior of cas. The class aims to develop a range of ideas, examples, models, and intuitions that provide a deeper understanding of cas. All techniques will be fully developed in class, starting from elementary principles. 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)
1LSA Hnrs
TuTh 9:00AM - 11:00AM
Note: meets with EECS 594.001, Psych447.003, Psych808.010 This section is NOT a mini-course and meets all term for 3 credits.
002 (SEM)
20LSA Hnrs
W 7:00PM - 9:00PM
Note: This class will be Dick Siegel's "Singing Out of Our Minds:" A Songwriting Workshop.
003 (SEM)
6LSA Hnrs
MW 6:30PM - 8:00PM
Note: Mini-course, 1 credit, meets in Art & Architecture Building 2216. Meets w/ArtDes 301.001, InstHum 411.001 from 3/8-4/7. Registration for Honors part of course will be by application in 1330 Mason.
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 0738201421
Emergence : from chaos to order, Author: John H. Holland., Publisher: Perseus Books 3. paperba 2000
ISBN: 0201442302
Hidden order : how adaptation builds complexity, Author: John H. Holland., Publisher: Basic Books 1st. pbk. 1995
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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