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Dynamics of and in Complex Systems

Final Report Summary - DIONICOS (Dynamics of and in Complex Systems)

In recent years, physicists have begun to turn their attention from investigating fundamental laws of nature to seeking to understand how such simple rules lead to the diverse, cooperative and dynamic behaviour found in complex systems. They have realised that such complex systems are found not only in physics, but also in biology, sociology and in other disciplines where interactions between agents play important roles. These investigations include the emergence of life itself. The discovery of the importance and properties of complex networks has accelerated these investigations as these structures abound also in the real world. Apart from academic interest, efforts have been motivated by a considerable number of practically important problems, from the material to the social sciences.

Through theoretical modelling and computer simulations, the DIONICOS collaboration aims to establish a general understanding at a fundamental level, as well as solutions of several important problems related to cooperative dynamic behaviour in complex physical, biological and sociological systems. A unique feature of the proposed networking scheme is the integration of work packages on dynamics in condensed-matter systems and socio-economic systems. In particular, research methodology developed in the context of the statistical physics in condensed-matter systems is exploited for the modelling and understanding of the agent-based systems modelling human behaviour. The teaming up of researchers working in the two fields unleashes pivotal synergies advancing the understanding of models in both fields. To achieve these aims, we have assembled a team of researchers specializing in different aspects of condensed matter and statistical physics, polymer science, applied mathematics, chemical physics and computational techniques. The project is hosted by EU groups located in Austria, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The research program set out, however, could only be successfully tackled and unleash its full momentum with the contributions of the non-EU partners in Armenia, India, Russia, Mexico, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela and the United States. The project links together groups with previously well-developed connections as well as some with weaker or intermittent connections to form a focused, multidisciplinary network. This scientific web thrives through an active exchange of researchers stimulating a close collaboration and dissemination of knowledge between partners.

DIONICOS was set up to
- advance our understanding and knowledge of cooperative and dynamical behaviour in complex systems;
- link the EU with important scientific partners in Armenia, India, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, USA, Ukraine, and Venezuela;
- achieve a long-term, large-scale cooperation between the partners;
- disseminate results via workshops and conferences as well as through scientific publications.

In the first implementation period the network has been very successful at advancing the understanding of the dynamic behaviour of complex systems in both application domains, condensed-matter physics and applications of the quantitative sciences in sociological, historical and artistic contexts. In network science that forms a crucial link between the two domains, in particular, progress has been made that advances and supports research in both domains alike. The understanding of a number of problems in non-equilibrium statistical mechanics ranging from fragmentation phenomena in fractal structures to the player behaviour in massively multiplayer online role-playing games has been fundamentally advanced.

The second network period focused on the integration of these results to contribute to the greater task of building a new physical theory of the statistical physics of complex systems and emergent phenomena. A practical outcome are a number of previously non-existent collaborations between network members, thus increasing the intensity of collaboration and thus the release of additional synergies crucial in the advancement of the standing of European research in this important field as well as its integration with groups from the non-EU countries that are so broadly represented in the present network.

The project has achieved significant impact in reaching out to the wider scientific and general public. A number of public outreach events have been hosted at different network nodes. Several highlights of the research activity bundled in the network have received broad media coverage, including our research on mythology which received wide attention, and an interview with V. Avetisov about joint work of the CNRS and MSU groups on molecular machines in FORBES. More unusual impact includes a stage production at The Mysteries Festival in Coventry.

The network has established a website (http://dionicos.complexity-coventry.org/) that is updated with research news and serves as a general repository of network research and publications.
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