The science of complex systems was born in the mid-20th century, but it has only recently begun to mature into a research field with real-world relevance. The development of new technologies that stamp data points on nearly all of our activities is allowing us to quantifiably study society — the ultimate complex system.
“Complex systems is really now getting into a different stage of its life in which it can start to have an impact through practical applications,” said Alessandro Vespignani, the Sternberg Family Distinguished University Professor of physics, computer science and health sciences.
It is for this reason that the European Union sought in 2006 to support the first-ever academic society devoted to complex systems science, which comprises 600 members worldwide. This year, in the first renewal of the society’s leadership, Vespignani was elected as its president.
“This is a young field and it needs young researchers to promote it, advocate for it and provide momentum,” said Vespignani, whose research uses human mobility patterns to track the spread of diseases across the globe.