Thematic Einstein Semester on

The Mathematics of Complex Social Systems: Past, Present, and Future

Summer Semester 2022


Nataša Djurdjevac Conrad (ZIB)
Benjamin Ducke (DAI)
Friederike Fless (DAI)
Stefan Klus (U Surrey)
Jürgen Kurths (PIK/HU)
Christof Schütte (ZIB/FU)
Stefanie Winkelmann (ZIB)
Sarah Wolf (FU/GCF)

The semester is organized within the framework of the Berlin Mathematics Research Center Math+ and supported by the Einstein Foundation Berlin.

We are committed to fostering an atmosphere of respect, collegiality, and sensitivity. Please read our MATH+ Collegiality Statement.

Scope of the Semester

The Thematic Einstein Semester The Mathematics of Complex Social Systems: Past, Present, and Future aims at unlocking the potential for mathematical modeling and reasoning within the extremely large and diversified fields of study that constitute modern Social Sciences and the Humanities. It shall bring together young researchers and experienced scholars from mathematics and other disciplines to focus on complex social systems, with a two-fold focus on agent-based models (ABMs) and data-driven methods. The TES will consist of specific events, continuous activities over the semester, and research visits.

Opening Day (25 April 2022)

To kick off the TES, the opening day will introduce a spectrum of approaches to mathematical analysis of past and present social systems. Also, it will present a few characteristic data sets that shall be objects of study in the TES. We invite interested students to participate and investigate these data sets throughout the semester in small interdisciplinary groups.


The opening day will be held in conjunction with Workshop I.

Workshop I: Data-driven modeling and analysis (26-27 April 2022)

The goal of this workshop is to provide an overview of data-driven methods for the analysis of time-series data. Given only measurement or simulation data, these methods can be used to extract global properties of the underlying system such as time scales and metastable sets or to directly learn the governing equations of the system.

Workshop II: Data past and present (17-18 May 2022)

In this workshop research data becomes the proverbial rubber that meets the road. Models, data and interpretations from a range of research domains will be juxtaposed and illustrated by worked case studies. This will include data sampled from a present population in a controlled manner, as well as more extreme data about past populations that is fragmentary and results from only weakly controlled sampling. An overarching aim will be to identify the manifold sources of bias, uncertainty and error in real-world research data, and to scrutinize data-derived conclusions. Another focus will be on formal methods and frameworks for handling incomplete data and representing uncertainty.

Workshop III: Stochastic modeling of complex social systems (7-8 June 2022)

This workshop will provide an overview of stochastic modeling approaches for understanding complex social systems, such as agent-based modeling (ABM), network modeling and hybrid modeling approaches for multi-scale systems. Of particular interest will be new simulation techniques, numerical analysis, computational methods and model reduction approaches. Potential focal areas are model derivation and inference for complex social systems, analysis and control of spreading processes, concepts and measurement of transition dynamics and tipping behaviour, as well as simulation and model reduction of multi-scale social dynamics. This workshop will be held in combination with the summer school.

Summer school (9-17 June 2022)

In cooperation with the BMS and the School of Complex Adaptive Systems at Arizona State University, this summer school shall bring together an international group of students to work on modeling complex social systems and mathematically analyzing such models. With a combination of lectures by experts and hands-on work in groups, participants shall contribute to small projects around the TES’ characteristic data sets.

Final conference: Mathematics of complex social systems (19-20 September 2022)

The final conference will synthesize the TES’ insights and outcomes. Alongside several high-level keynotes, MATH+ work on complex social systems as well as projects carried out throughout the semester will be presented.



The events will be complemented by the following semester-long activities:

Einstein lecture series

Experienced visiting and local researchers shall present recent work on mathematics of complex social systems in a regular series of talks (on campus / online) throughout the summer semester.

BMS course & open seminar

A weekly seminar at FU Berlin invites students to delve into a selection of works from the literature related to the mathematics of complex social systems.

Running projects and hackathon on benchmark data sets

Groups of students are invited to investigate the TES’ characteristic data sets projects running throughout the semester, following the three disciplines of modeling, simulation, and analysis. Experts from the field will offer their support regarding mathematical methods and data analysis. Among projects that present their findings at the final conference an award winner will be chosen.