1 1/12 Introduction and administrivia
2 1/19 No class (MLK day)
3 1/26 Survival lessons from birds and fishes
4 2/2 Why am I living in this neighborhood?
5 2/9 A weird world where we don't know how large we are
6 2/16 Are cities like animals?
7 2/23 Why are my friends better than I?
8 3/2 You won't believe what this class will cover.
9 3/9 Catch me if you can
103/16 Spring break
113/23 Evolution!
123/30 Dilemmas in back scratching behaviors in prisons
134/6 Braaainz!
144/13 Bananas, Lego, and Subprime mortgage crisis
154/20 Is Florida a human's graveyard?
164/27 Final project presentation
175/4 Final Exam week
175/8 Final paper deadline


Complex systems are everywhere from living cells to our society. Complex interactions in these systems bring about fascinating emergenet phenomena. To understand them, complex systems approach leverages mathematical and computational tools, and uncover simple governing rules and universalities across complex systems. The study of complex systems is inherently interdisciplinary thanks to the general applicability of methods and universalities of phenomena. This course will overview the study of complex systems, revolving around the following questions: What are the complex systems around us? What characterizes complex systems? How can we understand complex systems? How can we apply the approach to other systems? The main objective of this course is to support your research on complex systems and the project will be the most important part of the course. In addition, we will also talk about the mechanisms of science itself as well as practical aspects of research.

Basic information

Time & Location
Informatics West 122
Monday 4pm-6:30pm
First meeting: Jan. 12th, 2015
Yong-Yeol Ahn (YY)
Office: Informatics East Room 316
Phone: (812) 856 2920
Office hours: Tuesday 4pm-5:30pm; I'm happy to talk right after the class or by appointment
(you can email me or use MeetMe:
All announcements and communication about the course will be through the course mailing list and Canvas.
No textbook required. Readings (mostly scientific papers) will be assigned.
This course is open only to graduate students. There is no formal prerequisite but basic understanding of probability, information theory, and linear algebra, as well as some experiences in programming will be assumed.



The deliverables are:

Paper review and presentation

Paper review

Submit a review on the topic by Sunday midnight, a day before the class. The reviews should focus on the key questions and are expected to go beyond the key readings. The following questions may be helpful:

Paper presentation

Assigned moderators will make a brief presentation about the topic. We will pause and discuss for each discussion question. The presenters will be expected to put significantly more efforts on the literature review and the assignment. When you prepare the presentation, ask yourself the same questions above.


Class policies



Softwares, libraries


Books and review papers

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