Complex Social Systems

A guided exploration of concepts and methods

Introductory Graduate Course, taught at:

University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, USA

Adolfo Ibáñez University, Complex Systems Engineering, Santiago, Chile         

Complex systems are systems composed of interdependent entities that as a whole exhibit properties and behaviors not obvious from the sum of its individual parts, as the involved entities constantly react to the patterns they create themselves. From the invisible hand of Adam Smith and the creation of Rousseau's general will, to revolutionary uprisings and state-of-the-art digital social networks, society is full of complexities. We discuss several of the new theories and practical tools that have been developed to study the emergence of non-linear macro patterns that arise out of a multiplicity of dynamical micro interactions.  We visit theoretical aspects, such as information theory, computational complexity, dynamical systems theory, and chaos theory (setting the limits of complex systems between order and randomness), as well as practical hands-on tools to tackle complexity, such as dynamical social network analysis, big data webscraping, multi-level evolutionary analysis, and agent-based modeling (computer simulations of social systems). We review a diverse set of analytical and numerical methods and also play around with diverse software tools to explore emergent phenomena in complex social systems in action. No prerequisites are necessary to participate in the course.


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