Evolutionary Dynamics - A complex systems approach to the study of evolution of dynamical networks

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Mathematics


Recently, the development of networks theory has allowed for scientific and conceptual breakthroughs in different areas of the human knowledge, and a new vision of the world has emerged. Indeed, it is now extremely common to adopt a description of human and economic relationships in terms of a set of complex interactions between the elements that belong to the whole system.

In the past years, many studies have focused on network dynamics. In this context, a new model known as Tangled Nature model has been proposed to describe the evolution of ecosystems and to understand how the individual based interactions influence the macroscopic complex behaviour of the network. Since then, many variations on the model have been proposed, and it has also been successfully applied to describe the interactions between financial markets. We believe that it may be interesting to look at such models and analyse the behaviour and the dynamics of networks by a new perspective, that involves the introduction of concepts that belong to information theory. In particular, it would be interesting to identify a mathematical object that describes quantitatively the ability of the system to adapt to external perturbations, and to evolve. This would be of crucial importance for the understanding of the mechanisms that are behind the evolution of life on earth. Furthermore, it would give more insight about how some kind of networks - for instance economic networks - evolve in time, and how they acquire more stability and adaptability to external perturbations.

The potential applications of the research cover a wide range, spanning from theoretical ecology to financial networks. In particular, this study may be useful to determine the stability of such systems through the study of their inherent dynamics, and potentially to prevent catastrophic events such as a mass extinction of species or an economic crisis.


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Palmieri L (2018) The emergence of weak criticality in SOC systems in EPL (Europhysics Letters)

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509486/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1832407 Studentship EP/N509486/1 01/10/2016 31/03/2020 Lorenzo Palmieri
Description During my research, I have developed a novel method to investigate the critical behavior of complex systems. This methodology is based upon the introduction of a new mathematical quantity that is able not only to determine whether a system is at a critical point but also to quantify the degree of its criticality.

This allows not only to recover classical results from statistical physics but also to enhance our understanding of critical systems and to contribute to a 25-year old dispute in Self-Organized Criticality.
Exploitation Route The method I introduced can be easily applied to many disciplines since it only requires the analysis of images of the system taken at different times.
Sectors Education,Environment,Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology,Other