CS361 Emergence

CS361: Emergence
Fall 2009
Professor Blank

General Information

Instructor: Douglas Blank

Course Webpage: cs.brynmawr.edu/cs361

Course Blog: emergence.blogs.brynmawr.edu

Email: dblank@cs.brynmawr.edu

Class time: M/W 1:00 - 2:30pm

Class location: Park Science 230

Office hours: Monday 10am - 11am, Wednesday 10am - 11am, and by appointment.

CMSC B361 Emergence

A multidisciplinary exploration of the interactions underlying both real and simulated systems, such as ant colonies, economies, brains, earthquakes, biological evolution, artificial evolution, computers and life. These emergent systems are often characterized by simple, local interactions that collectively produce global phenomena not apparent in the local interactions (cross-listed as BIOL B361).


Week 1: Aug 31, Sep 2
What is Emergence?
Read the active essay Exploring Emergence
Week 2: Sep 7, Sep 9
The Game of Life and Cellular Automata
Netlogo and Python
Week 3: Sep 14, Sep 16
Cellular Automata
Pyro Module on Cellular Automata
Week 4: Sep 21, Sep 23
Emergence everywhere?
Discuss Steven Johnson's Emergence: Blog posts and comments
Week 5: Sep 28, Sep 30
Universal Computation and Evolution
Evolutionary Systems: the Genetic Algorithm and Genetic Programming: Revisiting the Edge of Chaos, Documentation on ga.py, and gaca.py
Week 6: Oct 5, Oct 7
Project Proposals Discussion
Week 7: Oct 12, Oct 14
Fall Break
No classes
Week 8: Oct 19, Oct 21
Explore NetLogo and Project Presentations are Due
Week 9: Oct 26, Oct 28
Bigger things than just pixels: People, Consciousness, and Sheep
Read Metacat by J. Marshall, and instructions on running the program.
Week 10: Nov 2, Nov 4
Consciousness and thought
Monday, discuss Metacat program and paper. Wednesday, discuss Connectionist Foundations
Week 11: Nov 9, Nov 11
Neural Networks and Emergent Systems. Demonstration of learning.
Work on Projects. For Monday: write an essay on "Eistein's Brain vs. a Brain of Eisteins" and post to blog. Internet scavenger hunt: do a search on your assigned phrase, as related to emergence.
Week 12: Nov 16, Nov 18
Social Networks
Reading 1: Community structure in social and biological networks, or Reading 2: FilmTrust: Movie Recommendations using Trust in Web-based Social Networks
Week 13: Nov 23, Nov 25

Week 14: Nov 30, Dec 2

Week 15: Dec 7, Dec 9
Final Presentations



Python and selected libraries.


Avida, artifical life environment


Emergence: The connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson.

The Computational Beauty of Nature by Gary William Flake.

Emergent Computation by Mitchell and Forrest.

A new kind of science by Stephen Wolfram.


All graded work will be graded on a point scale, with the total worth of the assignment proportional to its complexity and difficulty. At the end of the semester, final grades will be calculated as a weighted average of all grades according to the following weights: