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Course Information

Instructor Info:Sarah Hews
Office Extension x5414
TA Info:Nicholas Schachter
Term: 2012F
Meeting Info: Monday Wednesday
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Cole Science Center 316
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Cole Science Center 316

How can cathedral termites, found in parts of Australia, create mounds that are over 10 feet tall? Why do marching locusts swarm once they reach a critical density? What causes schools of fish to suddenly change direction? These behaviors are all examples of emergent behavior - meaning that the resulting complexity is greater than the sum of the parts. In this tutorial we will build agent-based computer models to explore what simple rules give rise to each of these behaviors, and we will spend time discussing the benefits and limitations of these and other models. During the second half of the semester, students will have the opportunity to study a problem of their choosing and will be responsible for building their own models. No programming experience is necessary.

Course Objectives:

There are general objectives since the course is a tutorial.

  • Understand the requirements and goals of Div 1.  
  • Develop good time management skills.

The objectives that are specific to the course.

  • To develop an understanding of what models are, and what modeling is - why do we build models?
  • To develop an understanding of the modeling cycle, the iterative process of designing, implementing, and analyzing models and using them to solve scientific problems.
  • To develop an understanding of what agent-based models are.
  • To be able to communicate examples of agent-based models, specifically model development and model applications.
  • To become familiar with NetLogo.
Evaluation Criteria:

Evaluations will discuss the student's proficiency and improvement on the course objectives.  The assignments / activities that will be used for the evaluations are 3 labs, several smaller assignments, and the end of the semester project that will include a presentation to the class.  

Students who complete the following are guaranteed an evaluation in the course.

  1. On time completion of labs and assignments.  HW not completed on time can be turned in with the portfolio but will not be accepted late.
  2. A completed final project (article selection, write up, and in class presentation).
  3. A completed course portfolio handed in on Dec 12 in class. This should contain all of the work from the semester.  A check list will be provided.



Additional Info:

Course Expectations

I expect that you will need to spend between 6-10 hours a week outside of class developing your understanding of emergent behavior.  Organizing your time wisely and staying on top of assignments will allow you to really learn the material.  Working with other students is encouraged - remember, teaching someone else is the best way to test your understanding.  Improvement is the most important thing.