I am the John Seely Brown Distinguished University Professor of Complexity, Social Science, and Management at the University of Michigan, and the Williamson family Professor of Business Administration, professor of management and organizations, Stephen M. Ross School of Business; professor of political science, professor of complex systems, and professor of economics, LSA.    In 2011, I was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

My research focuses on the myriad roles that diversity plays in complex systems. For example, how does diversity arise? Does diversity make a system more productive? How does diversity impact robustness? Does it make a system prone to large events?

I have written five books: “The Model Thinker – What you need to know to make data work for you” – stresses the application of ensembles of models to make sense of complex phenomena; “The Diversity [Bonus] – How Great Teams Pay Off in the Knowledge Economy” the follow up and expansion on the themes in The Difference; “The Difference”, which demonstrates the benefits and costs of diversity in social contexts, Complex Adaptive Social Systems (with John Miller), which provides an introduction to complexity theory, and, most recently, Diversity and Complexity, which explores the contributions of diversity within complex systems..

I have also published papers in a variety of disciplines including economics, political science, computer science, management, physics, public health, geography, urban planning,  engineering, and history.

In my research, I have been fortunate to work with a collection of brilliant people — Lu Hong, John Miller, PJ Lamberson, Russell Golman, Kate Anderson, Ken Kollman, Evan Economo, Michael Wellman, and Jenna Bednar — as I try to make sense of these questions

In addition to writing papers and books, I have also filmed a video course on complexity called Understanding Complexity..

My research on diversity provides me with many opportunities to talk with community groups, high schools, corporations, government agencies, NGOs, and university audiences.


I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan with my wife, Jenna Bednar our two sons Orrie and Cooper, and a Bernese Mountain Dog, Bounder.

Jenna is a political science professor at the University of Michigan and the author of “The Robust Federation: Principles of Design” Cambridge University Press.


BA Mathematics University of Michigan,1985.

MA Mathematics University of Wisconsin, 1988.

MS Business, J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University, 1990

PHD Managerial Economics & Decisions Sciences, J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University1993.

Advisors: Stan Reiter and Roger Myerson
Committee: Mark Satterthwaite, and Matthew Jackson.

Employment History

California Institute of Technology:
Assistant professor of economics 1993-1997

University of California – Los Angeles:
Visiting professor of economics 1995

University of Iowa:
Associate professor of economics 1997-1999

University of Michigan:
Associate Professor of complex systems, political science, and economics 2000-2003.

University of Michigan:
Professor of complex systems, political science, and economics 2004-2008.

University of Michigan:
Leonid Hurwicz Collegiate Professor of complex systems, political science, and economics 2008-Present.

Santa Fe Institute
External Faculty 1999-2005, 2006 – Present