One-Week Intensive Course: Complex Physical, Biological and Social Systems

A coherent program of study of complex systems concepts and methods.

Date: January 6-10, 2003
Location: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

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Subject matter

Introduction to essential concepts of complex systems and related mathematical methods and simulation strategies with application to physical, biological and social systems. The course will particularly focus on the use of multiscale representations as a unifying approach to complex systems concepts, methods and applications.

Concepts to be discussed include: Emergence, complexity, networks, self-organization, pattern formation, evolution, adaptation, fractals, chaos, cooperation, competition, attractors, interdependence, scaling, dynamic response, information, and function.

Methods to be discussed include: statistical methods, cellular automata, agent-based modeling, pattern recognition, system representation and informatics.

Demonstration of the application of complex systems methods will be made through studies of:

  • Social systems: education system, health care system, military system;
  • Psychosocial systems: patterns of social behavior, mind, creativity, awareness;
  • Biological systems: evolution, physiology, immune system, brain, cellular systems, genetic networks;
  • Physical systems: meteorology

Target audience

This course is intended for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and faculty who would like to gain an understanding of the fundamentals of complex systems, and develop methodological tools for conducting research in their respective fields.

CREDIT: Arrangements for credit at a home institution should be made in advance. Contact us at


This course is now over.

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