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SIOC 216A Introduction to the Physics of Complex Systems


•032621: API Media and UCSD Mutual Aid are hosting an event on March 27 1130AM-1PM PDT for Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders in Kumeyaay Territory (the San Diego area) who need space to process and heal in community. Activities will include: Creative writing session, inspired by Bhanu Kapil’s “12 Questions”; Processing discussion in small groups; Mapping our relationships and roles in mutual aid and resistance. Contact bt for the registration link.
•031121: Final project presentations will occur in three sessions:
Monday 3/15 500-700PM PT
Thursday 3/18 NOON-3PM PT
Thursday 3/18 500-700PM PT
Office hours to the end of the quarter:
Thursday 3/11 8-9PM PT
Friday 3/12 NOON-2PM PT
Sunday 3/14 100-230PM PT
Monday 3/15 200-400PM PT
•030521: Please read or skim the two covid-19 related articles at the bottom of the Notes and Slides page in prep for Tuesday's discussion.
•011921: Office Hours for Tuesday, January 19 1230-130PM PST are moved to Tuesday, January 19 330-430PM (just for today!)
•011821 *520PM PST) Despite it being MLK Day, I am in the homework session room. no one has stopped by yet - I will stick around at least until 630PM PST, in case anyone has any questions...

Links for SIOC 216A are distributed by e-mail or on this web site. If you are interested in taking the course but don't have an account for this web site, please send an e-mail to bt at

The study of complex systems is centrally focused on deciphering the ways in which the complicated interacts with the simple - the way a sand grain relates to a river, a tree relates to a forest, a worker relates to global capitalism, an indigenous clan relates to millennia of their culture.

In SIOC 216A, we will discuss the philosophical underpinnings of complexity and its implications, the conceptual and mathematical apparatus that has been developed (and continues to be developed) for analyzing comp[lex systems, specific tools for probing different kinds of complex systems, modeling, measurement and data analysis strategies, and a framework for asking questions and answering them for any complex system.

Applications will include physical systems from canyons to climate, biological systems from flagella to forests, human systems from consciousness to culture, economic systems from stock markets to socialism, and political systems from colonialism to collectivism.

You will finish the course with a working knowledge of the concepts and methods used in the study of complex systems and how they have been and can be applied in the natural and social sciences.

In the last two weeks of the course in 2021, we will use the methods of complexity to analyze anti-Blackness and the struggles against it and the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact the instructor, bt werner bwerner AT ucsd DOT edu

Download a SIO 216A Flyer here.

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