Classes will begin Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Course Description: The study of Complex Systems is concerned with understanding the global behavior arising from local interactions among a large number of simple, independent components. Very often, this global behavior, called emergent dynamics, is not prespecified by design, and difficult or impossible to predict solely from knowledge of the system's constituent parts. Complex systems arise in many different contexts including social, biological and physical sciences, financial markets, and technological artifacts such as the electrical power grid, the Internet and the Web.

In this course, we will study complex systems in two modules. The first module will be devoted to mathematical concepts necessary for studying the dynamics of complex systems, models that are able to reproduce different aspects of these dynamics and networks that are essential for capturing interactions. Topics will include non-linear systems, chaos theory, autonomous agents, cellular automata, game theory, genetic algorithms and network science. Networks are an important aspect of complex systems and play a central role in the transmission of information, transportation of goods, spread of deseases, diffusion of innovation, formation of opinions and adoption of new technologies. The second module will be devoted to Peer-to-Peer Systems as important technological artifacts that embody many of the concepts introduced in the first module.

Lectures: Tuesday 11.30-13.30 (Aula Ercolani E1)
Wednesday 13.30-15.30 (Aula Ercolani E1)
Thursday 11.30-13.30 (Module II, Ferretti, Aula Ercolani E2)

Office: Mura Anteo Zamboni 7, Room 104

Office Hours: Tuesdays 13.30-15.30

Evaluation: In the second half of the course, each student will present a research paper selected among topics covered in the course. There will also be a final programming project to be completed individually using the PeerSim simulator or the NetLogo modelling environment. Final grade for the course will be based on: presence during lectures and participation in discussions, the research paper presentation and the programming project.


  1. (EK) Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning about a Highly Connected World, D. Easley, J. Kleinberg. Cambridge University Press, 2010.
  2. (vS) Graph Theory and Complex Networks: An Introduction, M. van Steen. 2010.
  3. (F) The Computational Beauty of Nature, G. W. Flake. MIT Press, Cambridge MA. 2000.
  4. (MP) Complex Adaptive Systems: An Introduction to Computational Models of Social Life, J. H. Miller, S. E. Page. Princeton University Press, 2007.

Final Exam: Thursday, 9 July 2019, at 15.00, instructor's office.

You must sign up for the "final exam" through the site AlmaEsami.