In less than 36 hours, early Wednesday morning, I will embark on the first of two adventures in the next two weeks. By the time these escapades are over, I will have experienced my first domestic flight, attended my first (and second) conferences, presented at my first conference, and visited Washington, D.C. as well as Argonne National Laboratory for the first time. Explanation might just be in order, so read on.
Complex Adaptive Systems
Complexity science, a highly cross-curricular field, seeks to understand the behavior of complex adaptive systems (CAS), which is the moniker given to any system of self-similar agents which use a set of rules to adapt to changes in their environment. CAS are interesting in that they exhibit emergence, which is “the arising of novel and coherent structures, patterns and properties during the process of self-organization in complex systems” (Goldstein 1999). To give you a better idea of emergence, classic examples of emergence are a termite mound rising tall above the ground, resulting from millions of individually insignificant actions by termites, and hurricanes, whose novel physical structure and incredible fury is caused by simple changes in temperature.
That brings me to the first symposium, in Arlington, which begins on Thursday and is entitled “Complex Adaptive Systems and the Threshold Effect: Views from the Natural and Social Sciences.” I will attend talks and hands-on workshops on phenomenon best described as CAS, like the stock market, the brain and immune system, and the ecosystem. The symposium is part of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Fall Symposium Series, and the program schedule is posted online, if you’re curious to see what I’m up to. A great part of this is that I will have Wednesday and Saturday afternoon to do some exploration of our nation’s capital, before returning to Evansville on Sunday afternoon.
This symposium is important to my senior project research, besides being on an interesting topic; I hope to glean a better understanding as to what internal structure would be the most effective and efficient for creating a dynamic associative network that can accomplish my goal of document classification. Hearing current research on the threshold effect will be especially useful.
Argonne National Laboratory
The following week, I will take off again, this time to Chicago to give a talk with my colleague, Scott Fahle, on the research we conducted over the summer at DePauw University. We worked on a virtual reality simulation of the ENIAC (the first reprogrammable electronic computer); our research was funded through Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), a fantastic program fronted by the National Science Foundation.
The talk we’ll be giving is entitled Improving a Virtual Reality Simulator of the ENIAC; you can see when we’ll be talking and read the abstract of the presentation via the schedule page of the symposium, whose full title is, deep breath, “Joint Meeting of the 20th Annual Argonne Symposium for Undergraduates in Science, Engineering and Mathematics, Computer Information Science & Engineering Education Stakeholder’s Summit, and the Central States Universities Incorporated Research Conference.”
As you can see from the Program at a Glance, we also get tours of the Argonne National Laboratory, which is awesome. Sadly, I don’t have a Department of Energy ID, which is one of the requirements for admittance onto the laboratory grounds… but I think I can get a guest pass.
The NSF is kind enough to have provided grants for both my attendance to the CAS symposium as well as the Argonne undergraduate symposium (though quite separately). Without them (and the support of viewers like you), I would not be able to partake in these incredible opportunities.
Goldstein, Jeffrey (1999), “Emergence as a Construct: History and Issues”, Emergence: Complexity and Organization 1 (1): 49-72