Institute of Complex Systems
Universitat de Barcelona
Institute of Complex Systems
Universitat de Barcelona
Institute of Complex Systems
Universitat de Barcelona

The UB Institute of Complex Systems is launched

This week, the Founding Symposium of the Institute of Complex Systems of the UB (UBICS) took place, in the launch of this new UB Institute. UBICS gathers researchers from six faculties and centers of the UB and has forty UB researchers and fifteen researchers in training from diverse fields such as physics, philology, history, psychology, mathematics and computer sciences, apart from INEF researchers.

In the opening, which took place on June 12, the Vice-Rector for Research of the UB, Domènec Espriu, highlighted the role of these institutes to “add value” to the University. These institutes enable “to support the areas in which we are strong, such as Complexity Sciences, an area in which we believe we can have a great impact on research”.

Then, the Director of the Institute, Albert Diaz Guilera, put emphasis on the experience of other initiatives which led to the current UBICS. Also, he highlighted the multidisciplinary character of the new institute and presented some of the achieved successes despite its short life, regarding published articles in multidisciplinary distinguished journals, as well as the fact that there are already two ERC projects being developed in the Institute.

UBICS aims to be a research center that attracts prestigious and talented researchers within programs such as ICREA, from which it already has two researchers. In this sense, a great amount of permanent researchers got their job positions through the program Ramon y Cajal. The excellence of the research carried out by the current members of the Institute is awarded with the four ICREA Academia awards.    

Another objective is to list the University of Barcelona among the top institutions in the field of research on complex systems, which is now scattered into different departments and centers. UBICS allows offering common frameworks for all eligible disciplines, with guarantees, to all new funding opportunities for national and European projects and other calls, and cover new challenges and emerging fields. 

It will also encourage the collaboration with other UB research institutes and centers from other universities that are dedicated to research on common subjects, as it has been done over the last seven years with the initiative Complexitat.CAT. This purely scientific collaboration, carried out during the last years, will allow us to grow functionally until becoming a powerful Catalan entity within covering the research space that corresponds to this field of interdisciplinary research. 

It also offers a common space for the necessary intensive computing for all involved research groups and will serve to give visibility and increase its social, institutional and media impact regarding research on complex systems, as well as strengthening entrepreneurship in this field.

Despite the implication in quality research, we do not want to leave behind the importance of research visibility and training aspects. Therefore, a great part of the Institute efforts will be made on bringing the knowledge of complex systems to society and providing future scientists with it. Regarding training, we will promote activities related to the researchers in training with the current doctoral programs and postgraduate courses will be offered too, aimed at a wide range of students and researchers. In addition, another part will be dedicated to the students of the last years of the current bachelor degrees.

Research on complex systems: from neuroscience to history or collective sports

The UB institutes aim to promote interdisciplinarity and specialization in a research field. In this sense, the study of complex systems is based on the study tools for the theory of networks, statistical physics or the study of dynamic systems apart from data science and artificial intelligence. These basic branches enable applying this science to several fields that range from the behavior of matter or life sciences, neurosciences and biophysics, to social sciences (economics, psychology…) and history.

In particular, the main research lines in UBICS are focused on the application of the theory of networks to describe experiments in neural cultures, as well as predict or find out new phenomenologies in neuroscience; study and set collective behavior patterns in active matter applying dynamic networks; the development of learning models that can be compared with experimental evidence; the use of the theory of networks to classify and structure the study of collective sports; the development of hybrid models to study the dynamics in confined systems at small scale; and the study of social dilemmas, decision-taking and human mobility around urban environments, using basic modeling tools and participatory methodologies from the emerging citizen science.  

One of the emblematic projects of this interdisciplinarity is the European project ERC-AdG, led by the UB, EPNet (Production and distribution of food during the Roman Empire: economic and political dynamics), which joins the physics of complex networks and history, to do research on dynamics of the commercial trade system during the Roman Empire.

At this moment, UBICS, ratified in June 2016 by the Governing Council, has its headquarters at the Faculty of Physics.

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