Seminar with John Hawkins

Title: Overview of the NECSI Summer School
Date & time: 10am Tues 31 Aug, followed by morning tea
Venue: room 78-420


The NECSI summer school in complex systems involved two weeks of lectures covering a variety of abstract and practical material. In this talk I will summarise the main thread of material through the two weeks; covering some techniques for conceptualising complex systems, and a collection of modelling heuristics.

The NECSI perspective on complex systems emerges out of the history of systems that have been intractable to the techniques of traditional physics. The broad definition of the subject is the study of systems composed of many interacting parts, that exhibit order across a range of scales and violate the ergodic hypothesis. Yaneer Bar-Yam summarises this perspective with a visualisation tool called a complexity profile, which consists of a graph displaying the information theoretic complexity of a system across a range of observational scales. He then uses this and a range of other tools to discuss complex systems concepts applied to understanding evolution and human civilisation.

The section on modelling began with an information theoretical argument as to why modelling is necessary when studying complex systems. It was then followed by a discussion about initial considerations such as: identifying the exact phenomena to be modelled, the necessity of modesty and the range of mathematical decisions. This was followed by an overview of methods of evaluating the model and checking for coherence with the target system. Most of the discussion focused on guidelines for building successful models and understanding what can be reasonably expected from the model.

I have a written summary of the material available on my home page, and would greatly appreciate some feed back:

World-class basic and applied inter-disciplinary research on questions fundamental to understanding, designing and managing complex systems
2009 The ARC Centre for Complex Systems, Australia