Complex Systems

"As the scale of human activity expands, our interaction with and dependence on Complex Systems is increasing rapidly. Continuing failure to deal appropriately with such systems poses a real threat whereas understanding their behaviour offers the possibility of spectacular and unforeseen advances in many areas of science and its application."

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, (CSIRO), Australia's national science agency

Complex Systems research is the study of collective systems and their impact on their environment. Complex systems have emergent, non-linear properties and are able to adapt to changing environments; their traits can be observed in manmade systems such as the Internet or the world's stock markets, as well as more organic structures such as ant colonies or collections of atoms and molecules.

The study of complexity is set to become a major area of interest for academia, society, industry and commerce in the 21st Century, as the world's political, economic, social and scientific arenas undergo change at an unprecedented rate. The science behind it is still in its infancy and is set to introduce a paradigm shift in our understanding of our natural, physical and social environment. However, the goal is not just to understand these systems but, ultimately, to manipulate them for the benefit of society and the economy.

The Brunel Collaborative Research Network in Complexity Science is a diverse and unique group of researchers working across the boundaries of engineering, economics, health, ICT, design, sociology, computer science, and business, and whose aim is to better understand our established and emerging collective behaviour, and to solve the multi-disciplinary problems that they pose.

Staff are currently working on a fascinating range of problems including the scheduling of aircraft, consumer behaviour in supermarkets and shopping malls, packet transport on the Internet, theatrical performance, ad-hoc wireless networks and the handling of information in organisations.

In total, over 100 academic staff are engaged in complexity research at Brunel. Their common link, whether the subject is the focus of their research or a minority element within it, is the desire to solve practical problems, design functional systems and to apply the tools and techniques of complexity science.

Diane Smith
Tel: +44 (0)1895 265931

Page last updated: Tuesday 19 June 2012