Heterogeneous structure is the hallmark of all non-trivial systems. We are used to seeing it in man-made artifacts such as buildings, machines, computers, electronic circuits, texts, musical compositions, etc., and its presence is not surprising. All these artifacts have architects, designers, authors and composers who impose structure on their creations from the top down, i.e., by design. However, there are many other natural and artificial systems of immense complexity that also show deep structure, with many components performing distinct functions. These include living organisms and their sub-systems (e.g., the brain), ecosystems, insect colonies, bird and insect swarms, economies, societies, cities, corporations, the Internet and the World-Wide web. No master termite architect designs 12 foot tall termite hills with columns, arches, domes and many rooms with distinct functions. Nor is there a central controlling authority supervising the World-Wide Web or San Francisco. Yet, these systems are extremely organized!
Where does this structure come from? How is it sustained and is it based on any universal principles? These are the questions at the heart of the emerging discipline called Complex Systems, which draws researchers from the physical and life sciences, mathematics, engineering and economics, seeking to explain the emergence of order in an impossibly complex world. Discoveries in this field are being applied to managing organizations, analyzing ecosystems and thwarting terrorist networks – but above all, to understanding the mysteries of life.
Join us at T2F for a session with Ali Minai, Professor at the University of Cincinnati, as he provides an overview of current ideas in the area of complex systems, most notably the concept of self-organization – the process by which order generates itself from chaos under the right conditions.
Ali Minai received his BE in Electrical Engineering from NED University, Karachi, in 1985, and his PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Virginia in 1992. He is currently Associate Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Cincinnati, where his research focuses on computational biology, neuroscience and complex systems. He has published numerous research papers and has edited three books in the area of complex systems.
Date: Tuesday 18th December, 2007