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Complex Systems Analysis at CEMS

The educational philosophy embodied in our "unity of knowledge" approach at the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS) also has a research analog in one of the most promising areas of investigation being pursued today: complex systems analysis.

Typically, complex systems are systems that change with time, don’t vary in linear pattern, and demonstrate emergence, i.e. behavior that cannot be predicted a priori from constitutive parts. Complex systems are different from merely complicated ones, such as jumbo jets or fine Swiss watches, whose behavior, though characterized by the intricate interrelationship of many parts, is determined and reproducible.

Many technological systems, from transportation networks to work in artificial intelligence to create sentient robots can be considered complex. Complexity is especially evident when human decisions play a role in the system, for example, in the dynamic functioning of the electric power grid.  It is not surprising that the solutions to broad societal problems cannot reside solely in the application of traditional engineering algorithms.

Our effort will be focused largely in three primary areas of regional and national importance: