April 2011
Unraveling Complex Systems

Unraveling Complex Systems

How do epidemics spread, birds flock, and stock markets operate?

Many of these answers fall within the realm of mathematics.

From natural entities such as living cells, insect colonies and whole ecosystems to man-made inventions like power grids, transportation networks and the World Wide Web, we see complex systems everywhere. Deciphering the mathematics behind such systems can unravel well-structured networks and discernible patterns in natural and artificial structures. That is the idea behind Mathematics Awareness Month, April 2011.  Understanding these complex systems can not only help us manage and improve the reliability of such critical infrastructures of everyday life, but can also allow us to interpret, enhance and better interact with natural systems. Mathematical models can delineate interactions among components of these systems, analyze their spontaneous and emergent behaviors, and thus help prevent undesirable developments while enhancing desirable traits during their adaptation and evolution.

In an effort to improve our understanding of such systems, the Joint Policy Board of Mathematics has chosen the theme, “Unraveling Complex Systems” to highlight the role of mathematics in the discipline. The 2011 Mathematics Awareness website will have articles and other resources to help explain the math behind such diverse systems as our dynamic response to HIV infections to production links that determine product trade between countries.

Mathematics Awareness Month is sponsored each year by the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics to recognize the importance of mathematics through written materials and an accompanying poster that highlight mathematical developments and applications in a particular area.
Questions or comments about this site may be directed to mamsupport