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Number 13, December 2010 | |


An Inspiring Gift


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enoĂŽt Mandelbrot left us one of the most inspiring gifts one can ever imagine: "Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line." (in The Fractal Geometry of Nature, 1982). His visionary way of looking to natural phenomena, but also to human pursuits, such as music, painting, architecture, and stock market prices, allowed going much beyond traditional explanations proposed by Euclidean geometry. Fractal geometry, and his contributions to chaos theory, will surely influence complex systems research for longtime.




O! presenting the exciting and about to start Complexity-NET

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Q! (LOCAT) considers a catastrophe as an emergent S! phenomenon that is due to complex interactions at


S! address this scales. Taking another perspective, Critical


As promised last month, our December issue will continue projects. Localizing Signatures of Catastrophic Failure

different scales, and proposes a !systems perspective" to phenomena and collective behaviour of multi-particle complex systems (Complex Matter) focus on particles at a very small scale, leading to spontaneous pattern formation at the large scale, bridging the gap between quantum mechanics and the macroscopic world. Emergence and Evolution of Biological Symbol Systems (EvoSym) looks forward to understand the emergence and evolution of biosemiotic systems, such as genetic coding (DNA-protein), RNA editing, or cell signaling. Simulating the emergent impact of regulations across cultures (Semira) tackles the issue of how the same regulation can have different impacts in different countries of the European Union, and studies the case of smoking in bars, which has been banned across the EU. All this, and much more, you will be able to find in your newsletter. Have a nice time reading it.

-- The ASSYST Team


Localizing Signatures of Catastrophic Failure (LOCAT) T6(E#/+,6"#L6#P"/L#L',8#)(61,#0/"+'@6"06#,81,#1#01,1%,(/&8'0#6A6",#'%#B/5"@#,/#/005(U#B5,# L6#@/#"/,#P"/L#6D10,2E#L86"#1"@#L86(6V###



arth scientists tell us that a large earthquake, the big one, is expected in California, but can not predict the location of the epicentre or the time of occurrence. Other examples of this kind abound in geophysics, including snow avalanches, rock falls or landslides. To prevent human loss at the failure of engineering constructions such as buildings, water dams, or mines, acoustic monitoring provides information on the accumulation of damage. However, no reliable method is at hand which could predict the imminent collapse of structures based on the data of surveillance. The reason that leads us to think that a catastrophe will eventually occur lies in the slow dynamics we observe before the event. The key question is then to understand when the slow motion will give way to a rapid acceleration leading to catastrophic failure. The LOCAT project is addressing this issue by going beyond signal analysis and focusing instead on the internal degrees of freedom of the system. The underlying idea is that a catastrophe is an emergent phenomenon that is due to complex interactions between constitutive elements operating on widely different scales. Quite distinct communities, focusing on different aspects, have addressed traditionally subcritical failure: physicists studied the atomistic mechanisms of failure, engineers developed continuum mechanics formalisms, while geoscientists perform laboratory tests and field recordings. Team 1 CNR: Dr. Stefano Zapperi (CNR-IENI, Milano, Italy) Team 2 UEDIN: Prof. Ian Main, Prof. Michael Zaiser, Dr. Ian Butler (University of Edinburgh; UK) Team 3 DTPUD: Prof. Ferenc Kun (University of Debrecen, Hungary)

A sample for Discrete Element Model (DEM) simulations composed by 6 10 particles connected by beams. A blow-up of the beams is shown in the inset.

The LOCAT consortium, formed by the Italian National Research Council, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Debrecen, blends all these approaches into a common framework, inserting laboratory materials science testing results in between abstract modeling and data analysis. This should take advantage of the progress made in the different fields towards detailed modeling of failure, yet at the same time be guided by the characteristic !system perspective" of complex systems theory to avoid the danger â&#x20AC;&#x201C; only too apparent in many multiscale modelling efforts â&#x20AC;&#x201C; of neglecting system scale complexity because of an unwarranted attention to detail.


Critical phenomena and collective behaviour of multi-particle complex systems (Complex Matter) ! !


ritical phenomena and collective behaviour of multi- and biomedical applications to colloids and granular materials under conditions of confinement. particle complex systems, or Complex Matter for short, is a collaborative research project between four groups from the universities of Patras (GR), Brussels (B), Manchester (UK) and Twente (NL). PI: Prof. Ko van der Weele, University of Patras. Duration: January 1, 2011 – December 31, 2012. The main goals of “Complex Matter” are: (a) to elucidate how the properties of individual particles, their interactions, and fluctuations at the small scale lead to spontaneous pattern formation and collective dynamics at the large scale,

Figure 1: Spontaneous formation of a striped pattern in a horizontally vibrated monolayer of poppy seeds (dark) and phosphor-bronze spheres (white) [Manchester Centre for Nonlinear Dynamics, University of Manchester, United Kingdom].

3. Self-organized segregation in bidisperse media (Tom Mullin and Nico Gray, University of Manchester, United Kingdom)

(b) to develop a unified approach for systems whose constituents range from nano-particles to millimeter-sized The Manchester team focuses on the transition from the grains, bridging the gap between quantum mechanics and mixed to the segregated state in a horizontally vibrated the macroscopic world, and monolayer of a mixture of two kinds of granular particles (see Fig. 1), with special attention to the effect of intrinsic (c) to propose solutions for real-world problems such as noise arising from small irregularities of the particles. A the industrial processing of granular matter and the second theme in this Work Package is the feedback formation of traffic jams. between segregation and bulk flows: When particles are segregated by size or density the local mobility of the To achieve these goals, four Work Packages have been formulated. Each team has the responsibility for one Work granular material is often subtly affected, which can significantly modify the overall flow. Package, while the close collaboration with the partner teams will be guaranteed through twinning exchanges and 4. Phase transitions in agitated granular matter plenary meetings: (Devaraj van der Meer and Detlef Lohse, University of 1. The risk of cluster formation (Ko van der Weele and Twente, The Netherlands) Tassos Bountis, University of Patras, Greece)

The Leidenfrost state – a close-packed cluster of slow particles floating on top of a low-density layer of faster The spontaneous formation of dense particle clusters constitutes a major problem in industries around the world particles – was recently shown to undergo a transition to counter-rotating rolls similar to Rayleigh-Bénard handling granular materials (mining, food production, convection in ordinary fluids. The transition is well pharmaceutical industry, etc.) and also in vehicle traffic, described by granular hydrodynamics. In this Work where the clusters are known as jams. A better Package the challenging question of whether partial understanding of these structures is not only of fundamental interest but also has the very practical goal of structure formation already sets in below the actual phase transition is attacked by studying subcritical fluctuations. avoiding them. A key difference between granular matter and continuous media is that the phenomena in the granular case involve only a limited number of particles. Patterns typically emerge on the scale of several tens of particle diameters Boundaries are known to play a significant role especially and fluctuations are not merely present but play a dominant role in the dynamics of these systems. To in small systems. Even a fluid near a wall manifests new behaviour such as wetting and the formation of thin films. understand how fluctuations operate under these circumstances is crucial, not only for granular matter, but Further confinement in cavities, channels, or pores gives rise to properties dramatically different from that of the bulk for all multi-particle systems far from equilibrium where statistical noise, dissipative interactions and fluctuations go system. The prediction of these properties is important in hand in hand to produce spontaneously areas ranging from microfluidics, nano-scale technology, emerging structures. 2. Phase transitions due to confinement (Thomas Gilbert, Pierre Gaspard, and Jim Lutsko, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium)



Emergence and Evolution of Biological Symbol Systems (EvoSym) protein), RNA editing, cell signaling, etc. It will also investigate potential technological applications in distributed agent-based software and robotics. The project is organised in three major work packages: WP1 will build on previous work in modeling prebiotic molecular evolution in spatially extended individual-based systems. It focuses on how "RNA coding" could evolve in such an environment. WP2 will investigate the origin and evolution of evolvable coding and translation in purely computational systems.

Image by Eric W端stenhagen used under a Creative Commons license (cc-by-sa)


voSym is a collaborative project bringing together complexity researchers in Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium. It is investigating two key questions:

How do complex representational and communicative coding systems emerge, self-organise and evolve, from micro to macro levels, in the natural biosphere? How can this biological understanding be applied to the artificial evolution of complex coding systems in computational and/or robotic systems? The project will apply methods and techniques of complexity science to understand the emergence and evolution of biological "symbol systems" (also called "biosemiotic systems"), such as genetic coding (DNA-

WP3 will apply principles of language evolution in collective robotic systems to the emergence of complex languages in models of chemical communication among biological cells. The EvoSym project partners are: Artificial Life Lab, Rince Institute, Dublin City University, Ireland. Principal Investigator: Prof. Barry McMullin. Bioinformatics Group, Universiteit Utrecht, Netherlands. Principal Investigator: Prof. Paulien Hogeweg. Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium. Principal Investigator: Prof. Luc Steels. Project website:

Simulating the emergent impact of regulations across cultures (Semira)


roject SEMIRA (Simulating the emergent impact of regulations across cultures) tackles the issue of how the same regulation can have different impacts in different countries of the European Union. Our case study is smoking in bars, which has been banned across the EU. In Italy, the ban is followed strictly by and large. In Portugal, it is peacefully disregarded. In the Netherlands, it is contested and legal exceptions are sought. Why the differences? We are looking for answers in modelling emergent behaviour of groups of agents that are driven by cultural values, and constrained by imposed rules. The simultaneous forces of bottom-up evolution and top-down pressure give rise to the different patterns in the different countries. The consortium consists of Frank Dignums artificial intelligence group at Utrecht University, the Netherlands that works on norm emergence and norm enforcement

from a deontic perspective; Ana Paiva's group at INESCID in Lisboa, Portugal that works on synthetic characters, affective interactions and emotion based architectures for intelligent agents.; Rosaria Conte's group at ISTD-CNR in Rome, Italy where she works on agent-based social simulation; and Gert Jan Hofstede's group at Wageningen, the Netherlands that works on synthetic cultures to be used by simulated human agents. Gert Jan acts as the PI. SEMIRA will start on January 1, 2011. It will proceed along two parallel paths: both zooming out and modelling artificial societies with a helicopter view, and zooming in to model virtual interactions in bars. The project will run for two years and is due to deliver results that can be used in classrooms to raise awareness about the hidden influencers that determine why people smoke or not. Information:



News and Announcements

European Future Technologies Conference and Exhibition

FET Young Explorers Scheme

Young scientists in Europe can now apply to funding under the FET Young Explorers initiative, specially target to The European Commission has announced that the next FET11 Conference will take place in Budapest on 4-6 May those who obtained their PhD less than six years ago. 2011, under the auspices of the Hungarian Presidency of This FET objective gives young researchers and scientists the European Union. the opportunity to take their ideas forward in the form of small STREP proposals, with possibility of funding in the FET11 will display "Science beyond fiction" with an impressive list of keynote speakers, scientific sessions and order of EUR 1 million. This objective is truly designed with the needs of young scientists in mind. A young researcher futuristic exhibition booths, covering a broad range of scientific fields and future information and communication must lead successful projects, and the leadership by young researchers of all work packages is also required. technologies. This conference dedicated to the frontier research in future and emerging information technologies No more than six years should have elapsed between the award of a Ph.D. (or equivalent) for each such young follows on the previous one, FET09, held in Prague. researcher and the date of submission of the short proposal. Call for sessions, exhibition and posters will soon be released on the conference web site Web: Web:

Join the Complex Systems Who's Who.

Mathematics in the Science of Complex Systems

This directory, edited by the Complex Systems Society ( ), presents the profiles of hundreds of scholars and organizations in the field of Complex Systems.

ASSYST is sponsoring a research workshop in “Mathematics in the Science of Complex Systems” to be held at the European Centre for Living Technology in Venice 17th-20th February 2011.

Its aims are to foster interactions between protagonists in the field of Complex Systems science and Complexity science, as well as to increase their visibility at the international scale.

The meeting is organised around the questions:

This directory is open. Anybody can have his profile in this directory provided it is related to Complex Systems science and Complexity science.

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Join us now at

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ASSYST Feedback

ASSYST is looking for your feedback on the quality of the service it provides to you. If you have any idea of things you"d like changed in ASSYST website, newsletter or other, or if you have any suggestion that you think could help Complex Systems dissemination please send them using the ASSYST Feedback page at: Your help is welcome.

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which areas of mathematics are used in complex systems science? what is the historical context? has any new fields of mathematics been generated? have any new problems been discovered? have any outstanding problems been solved? how can statistical research contribute to complex systems science? how does mathematics interface to computation in CS science? does complex systems science impact on the culture of mathematics? what are the implications for education and training in CS science? what are the !grand challenges" for mathematics and mathematicians?

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Reading snippets

BenoĂŽt Mandelbrot (1924â&#x20AC;&#x201C;2010) At a time when mathematics focused on lines, planes and spheres, Mandelbrot wrote: "Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line."

Roadmap for robot helpers The humble robot cleaning your floor heralds a wave of robot helpers, from miners to surgeons, that could be joining us in the coming decades. How should European industry prepare for these new markets? In Cordis

In Nature

Unravelling complex diseases with Preferential attachment in growing spatial complexity theory: from networks to the bedside networks We obtain the degree distribution for a class of growing network models on flat and curved spaces. These models evolve by preferential attachment weighted by a function of the distance between nodes. The degree distribution of these models is similar to the one of the fitness model of Bianconi and Barabasi, with a fitness distribution dependent on the metric and the density of nodes.

Common diseases like allergy, obesity and cancer are complex. Each of these diseases is caused by altered interactions between multiple genes. These alterations may differ between different individuals although they appear to have the same disease.

In arXiv

METRIS: The new entry-point for Social Sciences and Humanities Research in Europe

Exact, Efficient and InformationTheoretically Secure Voting with an Arbitrary Number of Cheaters We present three voting protocols with unconditional privacy and correctness, without assuming any bound on the number of corrupt participants. All protocols have polynomial complexity and require private channels and a simultaneous broadcast channel. In arXiv

Identification of an ant queen pheromone regulating worker sterility The selective forces that shape and maintain eusocial societies are an enduring puzzle in evolutionary biology. Ordinarily sterile workers can usually reproduce given the right conditions, so the factors regulating reproductive division of labour may provide insight into why eusociality has persisted over evolutionary time.

In ComplexDis -

A key issue of the METRIS Project was to identify emerging trends in Social Sciences and Humanities Research in Europe and thereby concentrating research efforts to a well focused set of European priorities. In

Open Science: from good intentions to hesitant reality At the start of the Artificial Culture project we made a commitment to an Open Science approach. Actually translating those good intentions into reality has proven much more difficult than I had expected. But now we've made a start, and interestingly the open science part of this research project is turning into a project within a project. In Alan Winfield"s Web Log

In Proc. R. Soc. B.



Conferences and workshops Bionetics 2010 5th International ICST Conference on Bio-Inspired Models of Network, Information, and Computing Systems 1 Dec 2010 to 3 Dec 2010

SIMUTools 2011 4th International Conference on Simulation Tools and Techniques Barcelona, Spain 21 Mar 2011 to 25 Mar 2011

FET11 The European Future Technologies Conference and Exhibition 2011 Budapest, Hungary 4 May 2011 to 6 May 2011

CSSWC@NIPS2010 Computational Social Science and the Wisdom of Crowds Workshop at NIPS 2010 Whistler, Canada 10 Dec 2010 to 11 Dec 2010

IMCIC 2011 The 2nd International Multi-Conference on Complexity, Informatics and Cybernetics Orlando, Florida USA 27 Mar 2011 to 30 Mar 2011

ECMS2011 25th EUROPEAN Conference on Modelling and Simulation Krakow, Poland 7 Jun 2011 to 10 Jun 2011

Extreme Environmental Events Extreme Environmental Events Selwyn College - Cambridge, United Kingdom 13 Dec 2010 to 17 Dec 2010

SKIN2011 Simulating Knowledge Dynamics in Innovation Networks: Workshop University of Koblenz-Landau, Koblenz, Germany 31 Mar 2011 to 1 Apr 2011

ISIE2011 6th International Conference on Industrial Ecology Berkeley, California, USA 7 Jun 2011 to 10 Jun 2011

CCSS2011 International Workshop on Coping with ADS11 Crises in Complex Socio-Economic Agent-Directed Simulation Symposium Systems - 2011 Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel; ETH Zurich, Switzerland Boston, MA, USA 20 Jun 2011 to 25 Jun 2011 4 Apr 2011 to 9 Apr 2011 ESHIA-WEHIA2011 IMSAA10 ISAmI 2011 The 16th Annual Workshop on 4th International Conference on 2nd International Symposium on Economic Heterogeneous Interacting Internet Multimedia Systems Ambient Intelligence - Software and Agents Architecture and Application Applications Ancona, Italy Bangalore, India Salamanca, Spain 23 Jun 2011 to 25 Jun 2011 15 Dec 2010 to 17 Dec 2010 6 Apr 2011 to 8 Apr 2011 Game Theory and Society 2011 BASNA10 PAAMS11 Models of Social Interaction in IEEE International Workshop on 9th International Conference on Sociological Research Business Application of Social Network Practical Applications of Agents and ETH Zurich, Switzerland Analysis Multi-Agent Systems 27 Jul 2011 to 30 Jul 2011 Bangalore, India Salamanca, Spain 15 Dec 2010 to 15 Dec 2010 6 Apr 2011 to 8 Apr 2011 WIIAT2011 The 2011 IEEE / WIC / ACM EUMAS2010 IEEE ALIFE 2011 International Conferences on Web 8th European Workshop on MultiThe 2011 IEEE Symposium on Intelligence and Intelligent Agent Agent Systems Artificial Life Technology Pars, France Paris, France Campus Scientifique de la Doua, Lyon, 16 Dec 2010 to 17 Dec 2010 11 Apr 2011 to 11 Apr 2011 France 22 Aug 2011 to 27 Aug 2011 ICAART2011 WSS 2011 3rd International Conference on The 4th International Symposium on SPSD2011 Agents and Artificial Intelligence Web Services International Community on Spatial Rome, Italy Hammamet, Tunisia Planning and Sustainable 28 Jan 2011 to 30 Jan 2011 20 Apr 2011 to 21 Apr 2011 Development Kanazawa, Japan WiVS 2011 AAMAS 2011 29 Aug 2011 to 31 Aug 2011 1st International Workshop WiVS The Tenth International Conference on 2011: Flexible Workflows in Distributed Autonomous Agents and Multiagent ECCS11 Systems Systems European Conference on Complex Kiel, Germany Taipei, Taiwan Systems 2011 8 Mar 2011 to 11 Mar 2011 2 May 2011 to 5 May 2011 Vienna, Austria 12 Sep 2011 to 16 Sep 201 ACIT2010 International Arab Conference on Information Technology University of Garyounis in Banghazi, Libya 14 Dec 2010 to 16 Dec 2010






Postdoc/Lecturer Modelling of biological systems and statistical physics Laboratoire IMNC CNRS UMR 8165/Université Paris Sud-11/Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7 France - Fri 31 of Dec., 2010 Postdoc/Lecturer Statistical methods for the brain functional connectivity networks: robustness, fusion with anatomical connectivity. Grenoble Institute of Neuroscience ( and the department of Images and Signal within the GIPSA-lab laboratory, France ( - Sat 01 of Jan., 2011 Postdoc/Lecturer Studentship & Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Quantitative Biology Laboratoire de Spectrométrie Physique in Grenoble France – Sun 02 of Jan., 2011

# #

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744#X#7/?&26D#4E%,6?%#4/0'6,E# Web: RSS: Suggestions:

# 7/",('B5,/(%#,/#,8'%#6@','/"Y# Jane Bromley, Gert Jan Hofstede, Jeff Johnson, Jorge Louçã, Barry McMullin, David MS Rodrigues, Ko van der Weele, and Stefano Zapperi.

# 4,/(E#%5B?'%%'/"#)5'@62'"6%Y## If you are a Complex System researcher/practitioner and want to share a success story about your work / research please submit it to The story should approximately 500 words (if you want to submit an extended story please contact us) and should be sent in TXT, ODT, RTF or DOC file formats.



ASSYST / CSS Newsletter 13  

ASSYST / CSS Newsletter for the month of December 2010 (number 13) Visit for more details

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