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Principles of

Complex Systems

Season This-One-Goes-To-Eleven

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CSYS/MATH 300, Fall 2017

Things to be known:

  • Identifying marks:

    Deliverator: Prof. Peter Dodds.

    Lecture room and time: 102 Perkins, Tuesday and Thursday, 11:40 am to 12:55 pm.

    Assistant Deliverator: David Dewhurst

    Office hours: 1:15 pm to 2:30 pm on Tuesday, 1:15 pm to 4:45 pm on Thursday. All at Farrell Hall, Trinity Campus.

  • Content delivery:

    All episodes (recorded lectures) and slides are organized here and here. The full season's youtube playlist is here.

    Follow @pocsvox for course updates and other goodness.

    Team members can interact on Slack [private].

  • Prerequisites:

    The level will be graduate/advanced undergraduate and students are expected to have strong general backgrounds in mathematics, statistics, and coding.

    The complete syllabus lives here and a poster for your wall is here.

  • Series:

    Principles of Complex Systems
    Complex Networks
    form a highly interconnected two course sequence.

    Both courses are part of the curriculum for the Graduate Certificate in Complex Systems and the Masters of Science in Complex Systems and Data Science at the University of Vermont.

Synopsis for PoCS:

Many of the problems we face in the modern world revolve around comprehending, controlling, and designing multi-scale, interconnected systems. Networked systems, for example, facilitate the diffusion and creation of ideas, the physical transportation of people and goods, and the distribution and redistribution of energy. Complex systems such as the human body and ecological systems are typically highly balanced, flexible, and robust, but also susceptible to systemic collapse. These complex problems almost always have economic, social, and technological aspects.

So what do we know about complex systems? The aim of this introductory, interdisciplinary course is to impart knowledge of a suite of theories and ideas and tools that have evolved over the last century in the pursuit of understanding complex systems. We’ll touch on everything from physics to sociology, from randomness to cities to language. Throughout the course, we’ll maintain a focus on (1) real small-scale mechanisms that give rise to observed macro phenomena, (2) scaling phenomena, and (3) complex networks, allowing us to explore how seemingly disparate systems connect to each other—the phenomenon of universality—and, just as importantly, where tempting analogies break down.

Assignments will comprise challenge questions, intermediate between standard coursework problems and more open, research type enigmas.

The following will not be part of the course:

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An example episode from late in Season 9, 2015:

Special Guest Executive Producer:

Tireless at being tired.

A post shared by Pratchett the Cat (@pratchett_the_cat) on

Tarot Cards

We have them.

Here's a random one.

Their origins are disputed but Tarot cards will be our guides.

But only if we believe.

We're going to eleven

But not everyone gets to go to eleven …

A blow: A captioned version exists. The Deliverator commiserates.

The powers of Eleven:

"He knows about them, doesn't he?"