Mathematics Research Communities

Complex social systemsMRC Conference Week 3: June 18 - 24, 2023

Complex Social Systems


  • Heather Zinn Brooks, Harvey Mudd College
  • Michelle Feng, California Institute of Technology
  • Mason A. Porter, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Alexandria Volkening, Purdue University
  • Daniel Cooney, University of Pennsylvania


Persistent Homology for Resource Coverage: A Case Study of Access to Polling Sites 
Hickok, Abigail; Jarman, Benjamin; Johnson, Michael; Luo, Jiajie; and Porter, Mason A.;arXiv:2206.04834 [2022].


The field of complex systems, which is mathematically broad and interdisciplinary, concerns the study of individual entities that interact to produce collective dynamics.

Complex social systems include the spread of memes on Twitter, the adoption and evolution of opinions during political discourse, and the formation of social movements that can affect both norms and policy. In all of these examples, the interactions of individuals, as well as how they react to external forces and shape their environment, lead to emergent features. Uncovering these interactions and determining how behaviors affect group-level dynamics has important societal implications. Complex social systems also inspire the development of new methods and draw on many different areas, including computational social science, political science, economics, legal scholarship, mathematical and statistical modeling, data and network analysis, dynamical systems, probability, and scientific computation.

The intersection of society, data, and computation in complex social systems creates an inherently interdisciplinary problem space, with a need for community-building between experts from a variety of backgrounds (including many who may not traditionally participate in mathematics research). This MRC aims to introduce early-career researchers to complex social systems and to foster new collaborations among mathematical, computational, and social scientists. MRC participants will come from a wide variety of mathematical and computational subfields and disciplinary traditions. We will explore some of the key methods and applications in complex systems, and we will engage in interdisciplinary research to attack open questions ranging from theoretical problems that are inspired by complex systems to data-analysis projects in social justice.

Applicants should apply to one of the programs that best matches their research interest. Applications to two MRCs are allowed, but an individual will not be selected to participate in more than one MRC. Individuals applying to three or more MRCs may be disqualified.

The application deadline (February 15, 2023) has now passed and no new applications are being accepted at this time.    

For questions about the application process, please contact the Programs Department at the AMS.