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LSA Course Guide Search Results: UG, GR, Winter 2007, Dept = CMPLXSYS
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CMPLXSYS 501 — An Introduction to Complex Systems
Section 001, SEM

Instructor: Riolo,Rick L

WN 2007
Credits: 3
Reqs: BS

This course covers a broad range of fundamental topics relevant to the study of complex systems. The course work involves weekly readings and discussion of papers and selections from books. The readings focus on "classics" in the complex systems literature, in order to give students a broad, general understanding for the variety of work that falls under the rubric of complex systems. Topics to be covered will include evolutionary systems, self-organized criticality, measures of complexity, approaches to modeling complex adaptive systems, and emergence. Authors to be covered include Holland, Axelrod, Kauffman, Bak, and Gell-Mann, Wolfram, Simon and many others.

The goals of this course are, roughly:

  • exposure to a broad view of complex systems topics
  • learn a common language and set of concepts
  • build a community of students interested in complex systems studies
  • have fun reading and discussing some really interesting material!

The challenges to making this a successful course include:

  • students with very different backgrounds and skills
  • students with different interests
  • the breadth of complex systems as a field of study

Another way to view this course is as a "preparatory" course for attending one our student-led groups:

  • the Complex Systems Reading Group (CSRG) cscs.umich.edu/CSRG
  • CSAAW (Complex Systems Advanced Academic Workshop), primarily though not exclusively for students who are using (or plan to use) a complex systems approach for (at least part of) dissertation projects. cscs.umich.edu/CSAAW/


  • 33% discussion — seriously!! Includes leading the discussion for some class sessions, attending regularly and participating in the discussions (with questions,comments).
    • Attendance matters!
    • Participation matters more!!
      Ask questions, answer questions, make comments.
  • 33% on each of two short papers (Summary/commentary/critique of readings, some from class, but most covering material not read in class.)
  • No incompletes (except in dire emergency) In general there is no reason for an Incomplete in this class. The papers do not have to be masterpieces of ground-breaking work. They should be seen as opportunities to explore aspects of Complex Systems that are of most interest to you, so it should be fun to write.

  • We will also use a few classes for students to briefly present a summary of their mid-term papers (eg 10-12 minutes each). Students have enjoyed this very much, as it gives them a chance to learn what is of interest to others in the class, and it gives them a chance to learn about areas not covered in class. These presentations have led to very useful interactions.

Format: Each session two students will serve as discussion leaders. You can run the session however you want. For instance, you might summarize or at least list what you thought were some of the main points or ideas in the readings. One approach that has worked well is to ask all participants to come to class with *at least* two pre-prepared questions/comments (pre-prepared is usually better than ad lib). The discussion leaders write those on the board, organizing them a bit, and then the group goes through them, people adding comments, answering questions, etc. But whatever you do as leaders, the idea is to have a good discussion. The expectation is that everyone has done the readings and has thought about them. Thus the leaders should NOT lecture!

Advisory Prerequisite: Graduate standing or permission of instructor.

CMPLXSYS 530 — Computer Modeling of Complex Systems
Section 001, LEC

Instructor: Riolo,Rick L

WN 2007
Credits: 3
Reqs: BS

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the basic concepts, tools and issues which arise when using computers to model complex (adaptive) systems (CAS). The emphasis will be on agent-based, bottom-up computer models. (We will only briefly look at other approaches.) The bulk of the course will involve "learning by example", i.e., students will:

  • read, discuss, evaluate a number of models from a variety of disciplines.
  • Modify and run experiments with exisiting models.
  • Design, implement, run, write-up results from their own models.

The course will cover all aspects of the modeling process itself, from model design through implementation to analyzing, documenting and communicating results.

The emphasis in CMPLXSYS 530 is on "Exploratory Models" of more generic complex (adaptive) systems and/or phenomena (vs. "predictive" models for specific situations).

The current estimated projects and their influence on a course-grade are as follows:

1. Class discussion                      20%          
   (An incentive to read and discuss!)
2. Short Project #1                      10%
3. Short Project #2                      20%
3. Short Project #3                      20%
4. Term project                          30%

Advisory Prerequisite: Enrollment in certificate program or permission of instructor.

CMPLXSYS 535 — Theory of Social and Technological Networks
Section 001, LEC

Instructor: Adamic,Lada A

WN 2007
Credits: 3
Reqs: BS

Introduces and develops the mathematical theory of networks, particularly social and technological networks; with applications to important network-driven phenomena in epidemiology of human infections and computer viruses, cascading failure in grids, network resilience and opinion formation. Topics covered: experimental studies of social networks, WWW, internet, information, and biological networks.

Advisory Prerequisite: Calculus and linear algebra; some computer programming experience recommended.

CMPLXSYS 599 — Independent Study of Complex Systems
Section 001, IND

WN 2007
Credits: 1 — 3

Directed readings or research in consultation with a member of the faculty in Complex Systems.

Advisory Prerequisite: Graduate standing and permission of instructor.

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