ITLApplied  Computational Mathematics Division
ACMD Seminar Series
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Considering Emergence in Global Information Systems

Kevin Mills
Information Technology Laboratory, Advanced Network Technologies Division

Tuesday, July 27, 2004 15:00-16:00,
NIST North (820), Room 145
Tuesday, July 27, 2004 13:00-14:00,
Room 4550

Abstract: Scientists have begun to suspect that various physical and social systems exhibit the property of emergence, where a system of independent but interconnected elements self-organizes to produce a coherent global state, or to achieve an unstable state where small events could lead to large, system-wide changes. This growing suspicion inspires some computer-science researchers to propose that system designs based on biological models could yield unprecedented levels of robustness and resilience. Other researchers believe such designs could instead exhibit chaotic behaviors. In this lecture, Kevin Mills argues that this seemingly esoteric scientific debate frames an urgent question for modern society, which grows increasingly dependent on information systems interconnected via the Internet. Dr. Mills explains the theory of emergence and describes some work to identify emergent behavior in the Internet. Dr. Mills outlines challenges inherent in revealing emergence, and suggests our ultimate challenge will be to control emergence in global information systems.

Speaker Bio: Kevin Mills, a senior research scientist at NIST, has held positions in government, industry, and academe over his 30-year career. Since receiving his Ph.D. in Information Technology from George Mason University in January 1996, Dr. Mills has served continuously on the adjunct faculty in the department of information and software engineering, where he won the outstanding adjunct award for 2004. From 1996 to 1999, Dr. Mills served as a program manager for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Prior to joining NIST in 1982, Dr. Mills worked as systems analyst for the System Development Corporation and as software developer for Tesdata Systems Corporation. Earlier in his career, Dr. Mills conducted research and development on automated air defense systems for the United States Marine Corps (USMC).

Presentation Slides: PDF

Contact: P. M. Ketcham

Note: Visitors from outside NIST must contact Robin Bickel; (301) 975-3668; at least 24 hours in advance.

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