Social Systems

People interact in many different ways yet we see clear social trends and preferences in society that are not easily explained from the level of the individual. The viewpoint from Complexity Science is often very fruitful and here in the Centre for Complexity Science we develop models to explain features we find in data coming from a wide range of areas, from ant behaviour to information flow in citation networks via questions coming out of archaeology. Again this is often working with experts from other fields. Below we give some examples of our work with references at the bottom of the page.

Opinion formation in a society is the result of influences between individual citizens. The relationship between the distribution of opinions held by the individuals and the surrounding society is dynamical and involves communication through various shifting network structures (Rajpal, Rosas & Jensen 2019). Opinions are not only of importance for decisions made e.g. by voting, they also of importance for choice of e.g. residence (Sahasranaman and Jensen 2019; Sahasranaman & Jensen 2017; Sahasranaman & Jensen 2018 ).

The spread of information in society is an essential part of development.  The pattern of bibliographies in documents (academic paper, patents, and court judgements for instance) leads one document to point to an older one.  This forms a citation network which an arrow of time constraining the direction of edges in the network. Such directed acyclic graphs have special properties requiring distinctive models (Goldberg, Anthony & Evans 2015) and analysis tools (Vasiliauskaite & Evans 2020).

Geography also plays a vital role in social systems, limiting the range of our interactions, a constraint that needs to taken into account when looking at most data sets, be they in archaeology (Evans &. Rivers 2017) or modern geographical data (Sood, Hilton & Evans 2020).


T. S. Evans and R. J. Rivers, “Was Thebes Necessary? Contingency in Spatial Modelling,Frontiers in Digital Humanities, vol. 4, p. 8, 2017.

S. R. Goldberg, H. Anthony, and T. S. Evans, “Modelling Citation Networks”, Scientometrics, vol. 105, no. 3, Art. no. 3, Dec. 2015. 

B. Hilton, A. P. Sood, and T. S. Evans, “Predictive limitations of spatial interaction models: a non-Gaussian analysis”, Scientific Reports, 2019.

 Hardik Rajpal, Fernado Rosas, Henrik Jeldtoft Jensen, Tangled Worldview Model of Opinion Dynamics, Frontiers. Phys. 7, 163 (2019).

 Anand Sahasranaman and H.J. Jensen, Rapid migrations and dynamics of citizen response. R. Soc. open sci. 6: 181864 (2019).

Sahasranaman and H.J. Jensen, Cooperative Dynamics of Neighborhood Economic Status in Cities. PLoS ONE, Aug. 2017.  

Anand Sahasranaman and H.J. Jensen, Ethnicity and wealth: The dynamics of dual segregation, PLoS ONE, October 10, 2018.

 V. Vasiliauskaite and T. S. Evans, “Making Communities Show Respect for Order”, Applied Network Science, 5, 15, 2020.