Launched in 2009 the £12m Institute for Complex Systems Simulation (ICSS) is a world-class simulation and modelling activity conducting ground-breaking research and running a flagship doctoral training programme in Complex Systems Simulation. We have recruited over 100 PhD candidates across a broad range of disciplines relating to complexity science. Our PhD students graduate as specialists in their fields, able to analyse, innovate and exploit complex systems models and methodologies to move beyond the current state of the art. See what our current and graduating students are up to.
Led by Prof Seth Bullock, Prof Jonathan Essex and Prof Hans Fangohr, the ICSS is considered one of the top three centres of excellence in the UK for complexity science.
In contrast to the twentieth century's huge success in reductionist research programmes epitomised by atomic, genetic and molecular science, this century will see an increasing focus on systemic science and engineering, targeting physical, biological, environmental, social, and technological systems and their interactions, and addressing questions of system function, organisation, management, stability, resilience, and evolvability.
The current surge in complexity science research is being driven by new theory, pressing real-world challenges and the opportunity to exploit an unprecedented availability of computational power.
The Southampton Institute for Complex Systems Simulation (ICSS) provides a stimulating home for interdisciplinary research that combines complex systems ideas and tools with computational methods in order to address challenges within key application domains spanning climate, pharma, biosciences, nanoscience, medical and chemical systems, transport, the environment, engineering & computing.
Our Doctoral Programme
Alongside interdisciplinarity and high-throughput experimentation, simulation modelling is emerging as the key tool for addressing today's most pressing research questions. With the ready availability of cheap computational power, simulation building is becoming a viable option for doctoral students across a wide range of disciplines. The EPSRC recognise that training in how best to deploy computational resources to understand complex target systems needs to be prioritised immediately.
We believe that effective training must be delivered in the context of live research challenges within relevant complex systems domains. It must address issues of technical implementation and how to exploit the state of the art in high-performance computing, but also inculcate broad methodological sophistication. In particular, command of the interdependent relationship between simulation, mathematical modelling, and experimentation is crucial, as is a grasp of the different strengths and weaknesses of simulation modelling approaches ranging from finite element methods through multi-scale models to agent-based modelling, and from efficient numerical methods for solving mathematical models through abstract computational thought experiments to realistic predictive simulation models. In achieving this, the ICSS has generated a community of doctoral graduates equipped to act as research leaders in applying complex systems simulation to the most pressing scientific and engineering challenges of the 21st century.
The Institute brings together a large and diverse consortium of University of Southampton research groups involved in complex systems simulation modelling. These groups are drawn from departments that span the entire University, from Archaeology tro Zoology. We are also proud to include as partners a strong group of non-academic organisations that range across several industrial sectors, and government.
Our industrial stakeholders range from major blue-chip multinationals such as BT, BAE, Unilever, Rolls Royce, NAG, IBM, Airbus, and others, for whom complex systems simulation is an activity with growing strategic importance, through government bodies, e.g., MoD and DfT, to growing SMEs with business models explicitly founded on complex systems simulation: e.g. NaturalMotion, who build physical simulations of biological motion for the entertainment industry, including the character animation for Grand Theft Auto IV.