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Studium Generale series on complex networks kicked off

‘It has never been so easy to set up a Studium Generale series.’ With these words Tilman Grünewald thanked speaker Frank den Hollander, who kicked off the Studium Generale series on complex networks on Monday 20 February.


The series of six subsequent lectures is open to everyone and suited for a broad public. Frank den Hollander, Michael Emmerich and Diego Garlaschelli talk about complex networks from different perspectives: mathematics, physics and computer science. ‘We want to put a spotlight on complex networks with this series, because they are incredibly important. We show how everything is connected in our society and that connectivity is the common denominator that determines our lives,’ says Den Hollander.

How complex are complex networks?

During the first lecture in the Lipsius building, Den Hollander introduced complex networks. In front of a mixed crowd of young and old he states that complex networks can be found everywhere in our daily lives: our daily transport by train or car, the money traffic between consumers and banks, but also the internet. ‘It is possible to map the Dutch railway network, but the internet is too complex to understand completely,’ explains Den Hollander.  


‘Connectivity makes us happy,’ he continues. Den Hollander warns the audience: when the connectivity of a network increases, the network becomes more vulnerable to attacks. A complex network should therefore be balanced: it has to be functional, but not too vulnerable. ‘For instance, when the six biggest airports in the world fall out, the entire network is down,’ says Den Hollander for a surprised audience.


Den Hollander is a big fan of complex networks: ‘I love to think about structures.’ He also likes that the subject is interdisciplinary: ‘It brings together many different disciplines. In order to understand complex networks, we need physics, mathematics, computer science, biology, social sciences and more,’ he says passionately. He says to be happy with the current collaborations between the institutes and the faculties. ‘But I hope that the collaborations will expand in the future.’

Next lecture

Michael Emmerich will give the next lecture of this series on Monday 27 February. During the first lecture he already gave a preview: he will explain how scientists use computers to visualise and simulate complex networks. He uses different examples of network simulation, such as biological processes, traffic simulation and the dynamics of social networks. Anyone is welcome, the lectures start every Monday at 19:30 in the Lipsius building in room 011. There is no prior registration required. 

Studium Generale organises lectures, debates, symposia, film screenings and other activities for a broad audience of students, university staff and anybody with an interest in science and scholarship.      

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