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Festschrift in honor of John H. Holland

15-18 May, 1999


These proceedings are the online version the proceedings of a conference held at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, May 15-18, 1999, in honor of John H. Holland's broad and deep influence on many different areas of science and humanities. The occasion for this celebration was his 70th birthday, which occurred earlier in the year. The conference consisted of two and one half days of talks and discussion devoted to or inspired by John's work and ideas. The conference attendees and speakers were John's current and former students, colleagues, collaborators, and many others who have been connected with his work. In addition, the afternoon of Monday, May 17 1999, was devoted to a public session, open to all in the University of Michigan community and to the general public, featuring talks by several notable speakers who have been influenced by or who have themselves influenced John's work.

John Holland has had, and continues to have, a remarkable career, one in which his commitment to interdisciplinary study stands out. Building on his early study of physics and mathematics, John went on to become the first student to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Computer Science (although it was called ``Communication Science'' at the time, 1959). Along with Arthur Burks and others, John went on to help form the late, lamented % beloved Computer and Communications Science (CCS) Department at the University of Michigan, a department devoted to the interdisciplinary study of complex information processing systems of all kinds, both natural and artificial. John also was one of the founding members of the ``BACH'' group at the University of Michigan (named after the original members---Arthur Burks, Robert Axelrod, Michael Cohen and John Holland), a small group of researchers from a variety disciplines who share an interest in complex adaptive systems of all kinds. Besides the original members (from Computer Science and Political Science), over the past 15 years years the BACH group has included: William Hamilton (Biology), Rick Riolo (Computer Science), Douglas Hofstadter (Cognitive Science), Carl Simon (Mathematics and Economics), Reiko Tanese (Computer Science), Michael Savageau (Microbiology), and Melanie Mitchell (Cognitive Science and Computer Science).

Continuing his involvement in new approaches to establishing interdiciplinary connections and projects, John was an early participant in and is currently an active member of The Santa Fe Institute, another institution devoted to catalyzing mutlidisciplinary research and collaborations. At his home institution, the University of Michigan, John has been instrumental in establishing both the Program for the Study of Complex Systems (PSCS) and its successor, the Center for the Study of Complex Systems (CSCS). Most recently John served on the University of Michigan's Life Sciences Commission, which issued a report (in March of 1999) recommending an interdisciplinary approach to research and education in the Life Sciences, including an emphasis on the role of the University of Michigan's new Center for the Study of Complex Systems and other (to-be-formed) institutions focused on Biocomplexity.

The speakers and attendees of this conference reflect the breadth and depth of John's interests and influence. The talks, discussion and papers attest to the fact that John's pioneering ideas on genetic algorithms, agent-based modeling, and complex adaptive systems have found fertile ground in a wide variety of disciplines, including (among others) cognitive psychology, economics, political science, population biology and ecology, as well as in his original areas of interest, machine learning and computer science.

Through this conference and resulting Festschrift, we thank John Holland for his years of generous, wise advice, to us and to his many other students and colleagues. Anyone who has met and talked with John will share our gratitude to a man who has always been so unfailingly inspiring, enthusiatic and encouraging.

Lashon Booker
The Mitre Corporation

Stephanie Forrest
Computer Science Department
The University of New Mexico

Melanie Mitchell
The Sante Fe Institute

Rick Riolo
The Center for the Study of Complex Systems
The University of Michigan


Talks and papers

The conference included a series of invitation-only sessions, as well as a session of lectures open to the general public. Those web pages contain a list of speakers and talk titles, as well as pointers to abstracts and in most cases, online versions of the papers (typically in postscript or pdf formats).

John Holland's Students

John Holland's Publications


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