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Adaptive Computation: The Multidisciplinary Legacy of John H. Holland

John H. Holland

Credit: Santa Fe Institute

In August 2015, Professor John H. Holland passed away in Ann Arbor, MI, where he had served on the University of Michigan faculty for more than 50 years. John, as he was known universally to his colleagues and students, leaves behind a long legacy of intellectual achievements.

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As a descendant of the cybernetics era, he was influenced by the work of John von Neumann, Norbert Wiener, W. Ross Ashby, and Alan Turing, all of whom viewed computation as a broad, interdisciplinary enterprise. Holland thus became an early proponent of interdisciplinary approaches to computer science and an active evangelist of what is now called computational thinking, reaching out enthusiastically to psychologists, economists, physicists, linguists, philosophers, and pretty much anyone he came in contact with. As a result, even though he received what was arguably one of the world's first computer science Ph.D. degrees in 1959,23 his contributions are sometimes better known outside computer science than within.


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