John Henry Holland

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John Henry Holland
John Henry Holland.jpg
Born(1929-02-02)February 2, 1929
DiedAugust 9, 2015(2015-08-09) (aged 86)
Alma mater University of Michigan
Known forResearch on genetic algorithms
Awards MacArthur Fellow (1992)
Harold Pender Award (1999)
Fellow of the World Economic Forum
Scientific career
FieldsComplex systems
Electrical engineering
Computer science
Institutions University of Michigan
Santa Fe Institute
Doctoral advisor Arthur Walter Burks
Doctoral students Edgar Codd [1] Melanie Mitchell [2]

John Henry Holland (February 2, 1929 – August 9, 2015) was an American scientist and Professor of psychology and Professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He was a pioneer in what became known as genetic algorithms.



Holland was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1929. He studied physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received a B.S. degree in 1950, then studied Mathematics at the University of Michigan, receiving an M.A. in 1954. [3] In 1959 he received the first computer science Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. He was a Professor of psychology and Professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He held visiting positions at the Rowland Institute for Science and the University of Bergen.

Holland was a member of the Board of Trustees and Science Board of the Santa Fe Institute and a fellow of the World Economic Forum. [4]

Holland received the 1961 Louis E. Levy Medal from The Franklin Institute, and the MacArthur Fellowship in 1992. [5] [6]

He was profiled extensively in chapters 5 and 7 of the book Complexity (1993), by M. Mitchell Waldrop.

Holland died on August 9, 2015 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. [7]


Holland frequently lectured around the world on his own research, and on research and open questions in complex adaptive systems (CAS) studies. In 1975 he wrote the ground-breaking book on genetic algorithms, "Adaptation in Natural and Artificial Systems". He also developed Holland's schema theorem.


Holland is the author of a number of books about complex adaptive systems, including:

Articles, a selection:

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  1. John Henry Holland at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. "Adaptive Computation: The Multidisciplinary Legacy of John H. Holland" (PDF). Communications of the ACM.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 11, 2008. Retrieved March 2, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. "Profile: John H. Holland". Santa Fe Institute. Archived from the original on February 2, 2013.
  5. "Franklin Laureate Database - Louis E. Levy Medal Laureates". Franklin Institute. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  7. Complexity science pioneer John Holland passes away at 86 at