Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Harnessing Complexity

Systems comprising multiple and diverse interactions

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The explosive growth of global digital connectivity has opened new possibilities for designing and conducting social science research. Once limited by practical constraints to experiments involving just a few dozen participants—often university students or other easily available groups—or to correlational studies of large datasets without any opportunity for determining causation, scientists can now engage thousands of diverse volunteers online and explore an expanded range of important topics and questions.
Advanced materials are increasingly embodying counterintuitive properties, such as extreme strength and super lightness, while additive manufacturing and other new technologies are vastly improving the ability to fashion these novel materials into shapes that would previously have been extremely costly or even impossible to create. Generating new designs that fully exploit these properties, however, has proven extremely challenging.
Whether designed to predict the spread of an epidemic, understand the potential impacts of climate change, or model the acoustical signature of a newly designed ship hull, computer simulations are an essential tool of scientific discovery. By using mathematical models that capture the complex physical phenomena of the real world, scientists and engineers can validate theories and explore system dynamics that are too costly to test experimentally and too complicated to analyze theoretically. Over the past half century, as supercomputers got faster and more powerful, such simulations became ever more accurate and useful.
DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO) is sponsoring a two-day Proposers Day, June 22-23, to provide information to potential proposers on the objectives of the DSO Office-wide Broad Agency Announcement (BAA): Attendees may register to attend in person or via webinar.
Networks are mathematical representations to explore and understand diverse, complex systems—everything from military logistics and global finance to air traffic, social media, and the biological processes within our bodies. In each of those systems, a hierarchy of recurring, meaningful internal patterns—such as molecules and proteins interacting inside cells, and capacitors and resistors operating within integrated circuits—determines the functions or behaviors of those systems. The larger and more intricate a system is, however, the harder it is for current network modeling techniques to uncover these patterns and represent them in organized, easy-to-understand ways.