Abstract: Complex nonlinear dynamics arise in many fields of science and engineering, but uncovering the underlying differential equations directly from observations poses a challenging task. The ability to symbolically model complex networked systems is key to understanding them, an open problem in many disciplines. Here we introduce for the first time a method that can automatically generate symbolic equations for a nonlinear coupled dynamical system directly from time series data. This method is applicable to any system that can be described using sets of ordinary nonlinear differential equations, and assumes that the (possibly noisy) time series of all variables are observable. Previous automated symbolic modeling approaches of coupled physical systems produced linear models or required a nonlinear model to be provided manually. The advance presented here is made possible by allowing the method to model each (possibly coupled) variable separately, intelligently perturbing and destabilizing the system to extract its less observable characteristics, and automatically simplifying the equations during modeling. We demonstrate this method on four simulated and two real systems spanning mechanics, ecology, and systems biology. Unlike numerical models, symbolic models have explanatory value, suggesting that automated “reverse engineering” approaches for model-free symbolic nonlinear system identification may play an increasing role in our ability to understand progressively more complex systems in the future.
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Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).