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Welcome Address

 

The European Conference on Complex Systems 2009

 

It is a great pleasure to present this year’s conference on Complex Systems located at the University of Warwick. We are very grateful to the Complex Systems Society (CSS) for inviting Warwick to host this event. The University of Warwick has recently developed a strong research capacity in Complex Systems Science. We would like to thank the university for the continuing support of this relatively new way to approach scientific problems. We all hope ECCS’09 will become a successful event triggering new discussion and research inside and outside the university. The strong international embedding of the conference inside Europe and beyond can be seen by exploring the fascinating ECCS’09 programme covering nearly all sciences. Here we would like to thank all visiting scientists whether young or experienced for supporting the conference with much enthusiasm.

Many thanks also to all the members of the local organisation committee at Warwick and the Open University. Without their help and commitment a conference on this scale would have been impossible to set up. As the conference is highly interdisciplinary we have been fortunate to benefit from experienced track and co-track chairs having the necessary background in their established field of research while being open to the other sciences at the same time. Here my special thanks goes to François Képès, our programme chair, who had the challenging task of establishing the necessary communication between all of our different research themes. Many thanks also to the track and co-track chairs for setting up the respective programmes of high scientific quality.

A conference like ECCS’09 cannot exist without financial and administrative support. We would like to thank the University of Warwick, our Vice-Chancellor Nigel Thrift, the CSS, the Open University, the EPSRC, the BBSRC, the European Commission, the abaci partnership, the London Mathematical Society, Springer-Verlag, and IOP Publishing.

We are currently living in a world of both immense richness and immense problems. The human race has become so influential in all areas that it can determine the global fate in the years to come. The scientific development with all its necessary controversies is still giving hope to overcome some of the more serious global problems we are facing. New scientific solutions to problems on small and large scales will help us all, spanning from new technologies in biology, medicine or engineering to the understanding of the dynamics of cities, the global market or the society as a whole. ECCS’09 will host a round table discussion on the ‘Complexity of Global Change’ to which I would like to invite all interested visitors. The ECCS conference series will for sure continue to bring scientists together working on such global challenges. The strength of complex systems research is its unique combination of theory, simulation and data acquisition, in nearly all fields of science. I would like to wish all ECCS’09 participants a successful and inspiring time during their stay at Warwick University.

 

Coventry, September 2009

Markus Kirkilionis

ECCS’09 Conference Organising Chair

 

 

Towards a science of complex systems

 

Following the success of reductionist approaches in many scientific fields, and despite the recent possibility of accumulating massive data sets, there are new kinds of problems in which it is impossible to predict the behaviour of a system from a description of its components and their interactions. To tackle these new problems, complex systems approaches have shown great promise around the turn of the century, in establishing scientific methods that could successfully be applied across a variety of application fields. More recently, the trend has been of more deeply anchoring these approaches into the intricacies of each particular application field. This trend constantly reflects back into transversal approaches, by increasing the opportunities for renewed inspiration from the application fields. So far, many studies in complex systems science follow either a network-based or an agent-based approach. We shall likely witness increased hybridization between these two complementary approaches, for more realistic modelling that would involve both privileged interactions between specific agents and an organization of agents in space. Finally, we can currently distinguish an increased focus on the design of complex systems, undoubtedly a consequence of past analytical work that improved our understanding of their underlying principles.

Since its inception in 2004, the European Conference on Complex Systems has established itself as the major scientific conference in this highly cross-disciplinary field. It reached as early as 2005 a world-wide scope despite is name.

Again this year, with over 290 scientific contributions, the ECCS'09 constitutes a rich testimony to the liveliness of the community involved in the exploration and design of complex systems. The Programme Committee has assigned these contributions to six tracks: Policy, Planning & Infrastructure, Collective Human Behaviour and Society, Interacting Populations and Environment, Complexity and Computer Science, From Molecules to Living Systems, Mathematics and Simulation. One advantage of rotating the ECCS among European cities is that each session has a slightly different local flavour. This year, Mathematics makes a notable contribution to the Warwick flavour. In addition to these track contributions, 12 Satellite meetings adaptively emphasize a wide variety of topics or concerns.

I take this opportunity to warmly thank the track Chairs, co-Chairs and Referees, the Programme Committee members and the Satellite meetings organizers, who have ensured that this Conference would meet the highest standards. I am also grateful to the Conference Steering Committee and to the Complex Systems Society for their wisdom and advice at crucial moments. Last but not least, I gratefully acknowledge the wonderful support of the Conference Organization Committee and of its Chair, Markus Kirkilionis.

 

 

Évry, September 2009

François KEPES

ECCS'09 Programme Committee Chair