Human Complex Systems: Syllabi for a proposed UCI Minor

The (proposed) interdisciplinary minor in Human Complex Systems at UCI trains students in the complex systems sciences that bridge the gap between the individual and the collective: from psychology to sociology, from organism to ecosystems, from genes to protein networks or organisms, from atoms to materials, from the PC to the World Wide Web, from citizens to societies. Courses taught cover Complexity, Complex Networks, Simulation, Nonlinear Dynamics, Evolutionary Game theory, World Systems, Political Economy, Historical and Nonlinear Dynamics and a variety of other topics.

Problems in complexity are generic to the disciplines but often evaded and rarely approached generically. In multilevel complex systems, higher-level system processes result from lower-level interactions that induce co-operative emergence. Similarly, lower level system processes may be constrained or even determined by higher-level interactions, thus allowing the possibility of adaptation and co-evolution between lower and higher level dynamics. Thus, multiple-component systems evolve and adapt due to internal and external dynamic interactions. Systems keep evolving and may become different system, and the demarcation between the system and its surroundings evolves as well. When a multiple-component system is manipulated it reacts by feedback, with the manipulator and complex system inevitably becoming entangled. Complex systems research attempts to understand the consequences of combining many internal and external multi-level system-environment dynamics.

The science of complex systems can also be characterized by a series of questions that cut across particular complex systems in particular domains. These questions include but are not restricted to:

  • What are the different levels of organization in complex systems and what are their characteristic spatial and temporal scales (e.g. slow versus rapid dynamics)?
  • What are the specific emergent properties characterizing adaptive systems coevolving with changing environments? How do intra- and inter- systems links appear and disappear with changing strength? How does the fundamental interaction topology of systems evolve in continuous and discrete ways? Can we interpret the long-term logic of link creation as a rational adaptation of networks to the function they realize?
  • What are the 'order creation' rather than 'order-translation' processes underlying the laws of thermodynamics and its geneneralizations, e.g., as non-extensive entropy?
  • We encourage and help train our students to attend such complexity summer schools as that of the Santa Fe Institute.

    SocSci 180A Syllabus4UCI_HSC_HCS. Human Complex Systems. Human Sciences and Complexity videoconference participation, with student focus on a written analysis of the work of a speaker.

    SocSci 180B SyllabusHCSManagement118AMcKelvey.pdf. Foundations of New Complexity Science: Applications of complexity science and agent based models. This course uses complexity science to bridge between old and new conceptions of social science. Newtonian science, neoclassical economics, and old style approaches to social science. Videocast/video recorded.

    SocSci 180C SyllabusHCS100.pdf. Formal Modelling and Simulation in Social Sciences. How do people make choices? Exchange goods, services and ideas? Or learn about and adapt to their environments? And how do individual choices, exchanges, and adaptations diffuse into the larger society and feed back again to the individual? We explore ways to model these and related phenomena, with an emphasis on the value of scientific speculation, computer simulation, and experiential observation. In addition to the traditional methods, we will explore using software tools like genetic algorithms, iterative networks and multi-agent systems. We will also cover holistic frameworks like Cultural Theory and Temperament Theory.

    Anthro 179A SyllabusSocSci180White.pdf. Networks and Complexity. Social networks and dynamics is studied through complexity theory, simulating interactions in social networks, and realistic network modeling as an approach to understanding society, organizations, historical change, and structural/dynamical approaches to problems in social science.

    SocSci 180 G SyllabusHCS131.pdf Culture: What makes it all work? (4) This course examines some of the basic questions that are addressed in our study of what we mean by culture with new theories and methods that allow us to begin to do quasi-experimental research into the nature of culture. We will make extensive use of multi-agent simulation as a way to examine how culture can be both "supra-organic" yet be embedded imperfectly in the minds of culture bearers. In this course We will attempt to arrive at a better understanding of what we mean by the "us/them” dichotomy that underlies much of the racism and other forms of discrimination that exist in the world, and better understand the way in which the individual and institutional levels we use as a framework to understand human behavior are dependent upon the cu1tural world within which we exist and act.

    SocSci 180 H Syllabus HCS110Gessler.pdf. Artificial Culture: Experiments in Synthetic Anthropology. Exploring artificially evolved multiagent worlds through computer simulations provides new insight into describing, understanding and explaining the complex causal web of biological and cultural processes that make us human. These massively parallel reflexive interactions have remained largely intractable to discursive and mathematical models. This project extends the trajectory that began with artificial life and artificial society towards a creative and critical practice of artificial culture. It embraces an evolutionary and computational epistemology, explores the envelopes of possibility for alternative counterfactual worlds, and experiments with "what-if" scenarios for explaining worlds around us. It focuses on the emergence of distributed cultural cognition, the rich intermediation between humans and their technologies. It investigates the dynamic interplay among cultural-things-that-think.

    SocSci 180 I SyllabusHCSCommunicationStudies154.pdf. Social Communication and the New Technologies. The Internet has made social communication cheap, simple, efficient, tailored to individual needs, and available to a vast number of people. Its digital core was first designed to provide military personnel with a reliable way of transmitting instructions, yet the emerging computer networks were gradually co-opted to perform an increasing range of communicative functions, such as establishing personal relations, conveying news, providing entertainment, storing and retrieving information, and performing transactions. The Internet's gradual integration of textual, graphic, and audio communication is unprecedented, allowing it to function at once as an on-demand broadcasting system, a vast marketplace, and a medium for personal and group communication. In this course, we use cultural, cognitive, and evolutionary theories of communication to examine the history, social and personal impact, and possible futures of digital forms of communication.

    Anthro 174AW On-Line Syllabus Anthro 174AW. World Cultural Comparisons. (Subtitle: Human Social Complexity: Comparative Statics). Introduction to ethnology/ethnography, comparative research and theory, culminating in processes of discovery and hypotheses testing using world cultural databases to which students can contribute. Prerequisite: satisfaction of the lower-division writing requirement.

    CS 190 Syllabus for Computer Science 190. Topological Analysis and Modeling of Complex Networks. Newly proposed course for the minor. (Syllabus in preparation) This is an applied inter-disciplinary course that teaches selected topics from discrete mathematics, graph algorithms, and network analysis necessary for analyzing and modeling real-world networks in many domains of science. Students will be able to select projects from various fields of network science including technological, biological, chemical, and social domains. Students will gain hands-on experience with analyzing and modeling large networks in C++ programming language and using LEDA C++ library for combinatorial computing.

    CS 131 Syllabus for ICS 131. Social Analysis of Computerization (4). Catalogue: Introduction of computerization as a social process. Examines the social opportunities and problems raised by new information technologies, and the consequences of different ways of organizing. Topics include computerization and work life, privacy, virtual communities, productivity paradox, systems risks. Prerequisites: one course (with a grade of C or better) selected from Informatics 43, ICS 10A, ICS 21/CSE21/ICS H21, Engineering ENGR10, or equivalent; satisfactory completion of the lower-division writing requirement.

    Math 115 Syllabus for Math 115. Mathematical Modeling (4) . Catalogue: Lecture, three hours. Mathematical modeling and analysis of phenomena that arise in engineering physical sciences, biology, economics, or social sciences. Corequisite or prerequisite: Mathematics 112A or Engineering MAE140. Prerequisites: Mathematics 2D; 3A or 6C; 3D. Lecture, three hours. Mathematical modeling and analysis of phenomena that arise in engineering physical sciences, biology, economics, or social sciences.

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