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Harnessing Complexity

Systems comprising multiple and diverse interactions

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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.
Developers of imaging systems have long been beholden to certain rules of optics designs so well established and seemingly immutable as to be treated as virtual “laws” of physics. One widely considered pillar of optical design, for example, is that imaging systems must be built from a series of complex and precisely manufactured optical elements arranged linearly. The result of such assumptions is that certain high-performance imagery devices inevitably end up being large and heavy, composed of dozens or more optical elements.
The social sciences can play important roles in assisting military planners and decision-makers who are trying to understand complex human social behaviors and systems, potentially facilitating a wide range of missions including humanitarian, stability, and counter-insurgency operations. Current social science approaches to studying behavior rely on a variety of modeling methods—both qualitative and quantitative—which seek to make inferences about the causes of social phenomena on the basis of observations in the real-world.
DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO), which identifies and pursues high-risk, high-payoff research initiatives across a broad spectrum of science and engineering disciplines, will host Discover DSO Day (D3) on June 15, in Arlington, Virginia. The event is designed to familiarize potential proposers with the mission, research areas of interest, and business processes pursued by the DSO, a fundamental research office with a history of not only reshaping existing technical fields but also creating entirely new disciplines—and of transforming bold, paradigm-challenging initiatives into game-changing technologies for U.S. national security.