Complex Systems

About the Program

Natural, social, and technological systems are constantly adapting and evolving.

The study of complex systems is focused on discovering and understanding how the myriad parts of a system—which could be the Internet, the human brain, a language, a power grid, or an ecosystem—interact with each other and determine the macroscopic behavior of the system itself. This strongly interdisciplinary field has exciting implications for computer science, physics, math, biology, and cognitive and social sciences.

Researchers at our Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research (CNetS) are investigating complex systems in action, from determining how a particular YouTube video suddenly goes viral to developing models that can accurately predict the spread of contagious diseases. Major areas of research include:

  • Epidemic spread and how traffic on transportation networks affects it
  • Complex networks and their ability to describe the functional core of natural, social, and technological systems
  • Robotics, focusing on robots that learn through trial and error and that communicate with other robots to share information
  • Artificial life, using computer-based, simulated organisms that grow and evolve, bringing artificial ecologies to life
  • Computational strategies inspired by biological systems (e.g., devising spam detectors that imitate the immune system)
  • Information networks and how the collective behavior of millions of interacting users determines how new information is created and consumed daily

Our students come from around the world and have a variety of educational backgrounds. What they share is a desire to widen their theoretical, computational, and technical skills—and, from the earliest days of the program, to engage in research projects ranging from robotics to Web mining, from social networks to the spread of epidemics.


Complex systems track of the Ph.D. in Informatics

  • An interdisciplinary program that enables you to focus your research in physical and chemical systems, biological systems, social systems, or technological systems

Combined Ph.D. in Informatics and Cognitive Science

  • For students who want to study the dynamics of brain-body-environment systems in behavior and cognition

Academic Bulletins

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