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Release: Sept. 3, 1999

Seminar series on complex adaptive systems in business begins Sept. 10

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Starting Sept.10, a seminar series at the University of Iowa Henry B. Tippie College of Business will take a cross -disciplinary look at how computer models based in theories of sciences such as biology and psychology can be used to study finance, economics, information systems and other business areas.

The series focusing on these complex adaptive systems and their use in business begins
2:30 p.m. Sept. 10 in Room S401 of the John Pappajohn Business Building with speakers discussing how computer programs can be used to model individual trading in financial markets.

Filippo Menczer, a UI assistant professor of management sciences and seminar coordinator, says traditional theory sees business activity as rational systems modeled using mathematical formulas. An agent-based theory would see business activity as less rational and somewhat random, best reflected by the behavior of its individuals or components and how they adapt over time. Agent based computer programs are written to describe the complex collective behaviors emerging from simple individual patterns.

At the Sept. 10 seminar, Blake LeBaron, a professor of finance in the Graduate School of International Economics and Finance at Brandeis University will give an overview of how agent based programs can be used to study interactions of traders and their strategies.

Paul Weller, a professor of finance in the UI Tippie College of Business, will discuss how genetically modeled computer programs can be used to formulate trading rules in foreign exchange markets.

"These models can be used to study complex systems at finer scales of detail, looking at the individual decision makers rather than just the whole. They could be used to analyze the strategies of an individual trader, a firm or other investment group," Menczer explained. "It's a new tool to deal with complex systems in biology, finance and even politics."

The seminar series is sponsored by the Sante Fe Institute's 1999 Fellows-At-Large program and by the National Computer Systems (NCS) Corporate Lecture Series. The Institute is an independent center devoted to collaborative, multidisciplinary research and education and encourages the practical applications of its results.

The seminars, which will include several fellows from the Institute as well as representatives from industry and academia, continue on eight Fridays throughout the semester and are open to the UI community and the public. Future topics include behavioral finance, data mining, neural networks, new World Wide Web and Internet applications, and social computer models.

A complete seminar schedule is at For more information, contact Menczer at (319) 335-0884.