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Invited Speakers

Iain D. Couzin

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Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, USA

Sensory networks and distributed cognition in animal groups

Understanding how social influence shapes biological processes is a central challenge in contemporary science, essential for achieving progress in a variety of fields ranging from the organization and evolution of coordinated collective action among cells, or animals, to the dynamics of information exchange in human societies. Using an integrated experimental and theoretical approach, I will address how, and why, animals coordinate behavior. In many schooling fish and flocking birds, decision-making by individuals is so integrated that it has been associated with the concept of a “collective mind”. As each organism has relatively local sensing ability, coordinated animal groups have evolved collective strategies that allow individuals, through the dynamical properties of social transmission, to access higher-order capabilities at the group level. However we know very little about the relationship between individual and collective cognition. A major limitation is that it has not been possible to observe directly the pathways of communication, and social networks are typically based on proxies such as spatial proximity among organisms. I will demonstrate new imaging technology that allows us to reconstruct (automatically) the dynamic, time-varying networks that correspond to the visual cues employed by organisms when making movement decisions. Sensory networks are shown to provide a much more accurate representation of how social influence propagates in groups, and one that cannot be captured correctly by social networks based on spatial proximity (regardless of how they are parameterized). I investigate the coupling between spatial and information dynamics in groups and reveal that emergent problem solving is the predominant mechanism by which mobile groups sense, and respond to complex environmental gradients. This distributed sensing requires rudimentary cognition and is shown to be highly robust to noise. I will also demonstrate the critical role uninformed individuals (those who have no information about the feature upon which a collective decision is being made) play in fast, and effective, democratic consensus decision-making in collectives.


Computational Thinking; Visualization; Modeling, Simulation


Iain Couzin is a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. Previously he was an Assistant Professor at Princeton University, a Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, and Junior Research Fellow in the Sciences at Balliol College, Oxford. His work aims to reveal the fundamental principles that underlie evolved collective behavior, and consequently his research includes the study of a wide range of biological systems, from cellular collectives to insect swarms, fish schools and human crowds. In recognition of his research he was recipient of a Searle Scholar Award in 2008, the Mohammed Dahleh Award in 2009, Popular Science Magazines “Brilliant 10” award in 2010, PopTech Science and Public Leadership award in 2011 and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Award in 2012.

Michael Luck

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From Agents to Electronic Order

Trust, reputation, norms and organisations are all relevant to the effective operation of open and dynamic multiagent systems. Inspired by human systems, yet not constrained by them, these concepts provide a means to establish a sense of order in computational environments (and mixed human-machine ones). In this talk I will review previous work across a range of areas in support of the need to develop theories and systems that provide the computational analogue of common social coordination mechanisms used by humans, in addition to those that might only find favour in computational systems. I will focus on particular examples that illustrate different approaches, including through the use of norms and contracts, and suggest some key challenges that need to be addressed to drive the field forward.


Michael Luck is Professor of Computer Science and Head of the School of Natural and Mathematical Sciences at King's College London, where he also works in the Agents and Intelligent Systems group, undertaking research into agent technologies and intelligent systems. He is Scientific Advisor to the Board for Aerogility.His work has sought to take a principled approach to the development of practical agent systems, and spans, among other areas, formal models for intelligent agents and multi-agent systems, norms and institutions, trust and reputation, application to bioinformatics and health, and deployment and technology forecasting. He is a director of the International Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (IFAAMAS), was a member of the Executive Committee of AgentLink III, the European Network of Excellence for Agent-Based Computing, having previously been the Director of AgentLink II. He is an editorial board member of Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, the International Journal of Agent-Oriented Software Engineering, Web Intelligence and Agent Systems, and ACM Transactions on Autonomous and Adaptive Systems, as well as for the SpringerBriefs in Intelligent Systems series. He was also general co-chair of the Ninth International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS 2010), held in Toronto, Canada in May 2010.

Michael Wellman

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Winner of 2014 ACM/SIGAI Autonomous Agents award

The selection committee for the ACM/SIGAI Autonomous Agents Research Award is pleased to announce that Prof. Michael Wellman of the University of Michigan is the recipient of the 2014 award.

Putting the Agent in Agent-Based Modeling


Michael P. Wellman is Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Michigan. He received a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1988 for his work in qualitative probabilistic reasoning and decision-theoretic planning. From 1988 to 1992, Wellman conducted research in these areas at the USAF’s Wright Laboratory. For the past 20+ years, his research has focused on computational market mechanisms for distributed decision making and electronic commerce. As Chief Market Technologist for TradingDynamics, Inc. (now part of Ariba), he designed configurable auction technology for dynamic business-to-business commerce. Wellman previously served as Chair of the ACM Special Interest Group on Electronic Commerce (SIGecom), and as Executive Editor of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research. He is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and the Association for Computing Machinery.

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