Complex Systems


This class focuses on themes of complex system theory:

  • emergence and self-organisation
  • loops and feedback
  • modelling and predicting
  • simulations

Work practices

During this class, we apply active learning theories, especially inquiry-based learning. This course is organised to mimic academic conference and students will engage the role of both program conference chairs as well as conference attendants.

We organise the groups focused on course theme. Each group prepares the hosting for one lecture (i.e. planning questions etc.) and creates a poster on that theme. Posters are often used in academic venues to present emerging research ideas, aiming for interaction between the presenters and audience.

Furthermore, the each student will write their own abstract proposal on one of the themes, proposing a research problem and solution. Again, abstracts are often used academic conferences to present emerging research ideas.

Students will in the final lecture engage in the extensive work of program committee and evaluate submissions and provide feedback.


This course is graded as pass/fail grading. To achieve a passing grade, the student must:

  • take actively part in the inqury-based learning theory
  • prepeare questions to a selected quest lectures
  • produce a poster as a group work and presenting it in the concluding session
  • submit a personal research abstract of a selected theme (one pager)

Enroll via WebOodi.

Course material: see below and the course material page (including files, thus password protected).


 22.1. Introduction to complex system theory and course practices Reading assignments: Justice, Christopher, et al. “Inquiry in higher education: Reflections and directions on course design and teaching methods.” Innovative Higher Education 31.4 (2007): 201-214.
Writing assignment: Write an initial idea (150 words) of a phenomena you’re interested.
 29.1. In-class workshop on course work
 5.2. Visiting lecturer: Petri Ylikoski (University of Helsinki) – emergence and self-organisation
  • Ylikoski, P. (2014). Agent-based simulation and sociological understanding. Perspectives on Science, 22(3), 318-335.
  • Heylighen, Francis, Paul Cilliers, and Carlos Gershenson. “Complexity and philosophy.” arXiv preprint cs/0604072 (2006).
 12.2 Visiting lecturer: Tom Hanen (Finnish Boarder Control) – loops and feedback
  • Reiman, Teemu, et al. “Principles of adaptive management in complex safety–critical organizations.” Safety science 71 (2015): 80-92.
 19.2. Visiting lecturer: Marjoriikka Ylisiurua (University of Helsinki) – modelling and predicting
  • Heylighen, Francis. “Self-organization, emergence and the architecture of complexity.” Proceedings of the 1st European conference on System Science. Vol. 18. Paris: AFCET, 1989.
  • Weng, Lilian, Filippo Menczer, and Yong-Yeol Ahn. “Virality prediction and community structure in social networks.” Scientific reports 3 (2013).
26.2. Visiting lecturer: Antti Liski (Statistics Finland) – simulations
  • San Miguel, Maxi, et al. “Challenges in complex systems science.” The European Physical Journal Special Topics 214.1 (2012): 245-271.
 4.3. In-class evaluation workshop Assignment: prepare and send the poster by 1.3 noon. Everyone in the group must be prepared to discuss the poster. Furthermore, teams will be asked to prepare comment one poster in particular.

(Note: curriculum tentative)

Additional materials

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