From cells to society: How networks shape almost everything – Birmingham Popular Maths Lecture

Watson Building - Lecture Theatre A (R15 on campus map)
Engineering and Physical Sciences, Lectures Talks and Workshops
Wednesday 28th November 2018 (19:00-20:00)
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Eleanor Mestel, Outreach and Schools Liaison Officer

A Birmingham Popular Maths Lecture from Dr Samuel Johnson

'I think the next century will be the century of complexity', said Stephen Hawking in the year 2000. He was referring to the study of living beings, ecosystems, human society, or any such 'complex system' which is more than the sum of its parts. What makes these kinds of object so interesting is the fact they are made up of many interacting elements, and even if we can describe each element in great detail, this in not usually enough to understand the whole system. For example, we know fairly well what an individual neuron does, but why, when billions of them are connected in a particular way in the brain, do things like memory, intelligence or consciousness emerge? It must be something to do with how the elements are connected to each other. This is why we often describe such systems as networks – neural networks, financial networks, gene regulatory networks, social networks – and try to relate the characteristics of network structure with the way complex systems behave. I will talk about some of these networks, and how they can help us to understand what goes on around us – as well as inside us.


The Birmingham Popular Maths Lecture series runs in the Watson Building (School of Mathematics) on the last Wednesday of each month, arriving from 6.30pm onwards for a 7pm start.

The Birmingham Popular Mathematics Lectures are open to all members of the public and the University who are interested in the study of Mathematics. They are particularly suitable for those studying Mathematics at A Level and we also welcome advanced GCSE students. Young people are welcome on their own, with parents or with a school group.

Registration is not required, though those travelling in a minibus should get in touch to confirm parking.