How does a network of interacting genes produce viable cells? How do networks of neurons in the brain process information? Why does flowing sand sometime get jammed in a static state? How can coupling many simple sensors produce a network that outperforms traditional approaches? These questions, and the sometimes surprising relations between them, lie in the domain of complex systems research. The challenge is to discover and characterize the collective behavior of complex systems, and to uncover the principles that connect the physics and logic of interactions between parts to the properties of the full system. This rapidly developing research area relies heavily on the concepts and language of nonlinear dynamics, and the evolution of this area of research at Duke began with physicists, geophysicists, mathematicians, and engineers recognizing they shared a common language.
Experiments in these areas are typically carried out by individual students who have the opportunity to explore all aspects of a project, including design, construction, and data analysis. Theoretical progress relies on the adaptation and extension of principles of dynamical systems theory and statistical mechanics, distilling the crucial features of the system into models that can be studied analytically or using manageable numerical computations.
The faculty members listed to the right (and below) conduct research in nonlinear dynamics and/or complex systems.
CNCS is an interdisciplinary University-wide organization that fosters research and teaching of nonlinear dynamics, chaos, pattern formation and complex nonlinear systems with many degrees of freedom. A number of physics faculty, post-docs and students actively participate in the Center. Other academic units with ties to the CNCS include the departments of Computer Science, Geology, and Mathematics, the Nicholas School of Environment and the Pratt School of Engineering. The CNCS sponsors a regular seminar series and a certificate program of study for graduate and advanced undergraduate students. Details may be found on the CNCS website.
|Behringer:||Experiments on instabilities and pattern formation in fluids; flow, jamming, and stress patterns in granular materials.|
|Gauthier:||Experiments on networks of chaotic elements; generation and control of high speed chaos in electronic and optical systems; electrodynamics of cardiac tissue and the onset of fibrillation.|
|Greenside:||Theory and simulations of spatiotemporal patterns in fluids; synchronization and correlations in neuronal activity associated with bird song.|
|Palmer:||Theoretical models of learning and memory in neural networks; glassy dynamics in random systems with frustrated interactions.|
|Socolar:||Theory of dynamics of random networks with applications to gene regulation; stress patterns in granular materials; stabilization of periodic orbits in chaotic systems.|
|Teitsworth:||Experiments on nonlinear dynamics of currents in semiconductors.|