DIGI: Complex Systems and the Humanities

DIGI is the Digital Humanities Initiative of the Willson Center, the UGA Libraries, and the UGA Press. DIGI includes support for research projects through the Willson Center Digital Humanities Lab (DigiLab) and an interdisciplinary certificate program that brings together courses taught across a range of humanities disciplines. The Willson Center’s support for DIGI includes three funded research clusters targeting Complex Systems, eHistory, and the DigiLab itself.


Bill Kretzschmar, Willson Professor in Humanities, Department of English


A complex system is a system in which large networks of components with no central control and simple rules of operation give rise to complex collective behavior, sophisticated information processing, and adaptation via learning or evolution. Complexity science has proven useful in research on evolutionary biology, quantum physics, ecology, among others. An ant hill is a complex system, and so is the human immune system. Human culture is also a complex system: people interact, share information, and cultural patterns emerge as a result of feedback in the system. An economic market is a human complex system, and so is human language. The order that emerges in human language is simply the configuration of components, whether particular words, pronunciations, or constructions, that comes to occur in our communities and occasions for speech and writing.

Complex Systems and the Humanities is an effort to promote the study of complex systems at UGA. It will be based on a web site hosted at DigiLab, which will publicize events at the university such as the Complex Systems Research Seminar sponsored by the Willson Center in 2016-2017. The site will provide basic information about complex systems, and will link to the linguistic research of the Linguistic Atlas Project. A feature of the new site will be a computer simulation of language diffusion that users can manipulate themselves.

Image by Erzsébet Ravasz Regan, http://regan.med.harvard.edu/hierarchy.php

Affiliated Faculty

  • Jonathan Arnold, Department of Genetics
  • Stephen Berry, Department of History
  • John M Drake, School of Ecology
  • Juan B. Gutierrez, Department of Mathematics
  • Takoi K Hamrita, College of Engineering
  • Philip V. Holmes, Department of Psychology
  • Caner Kazanci, Department of Mathematics
  • Jessica Kissinger, Institute of Bioinformatics
  • Stephen Miller, Department of Psychology
  • K. K. Mon, Department of Physics
  • Pejman Rohani, School of Ecology
  • John R Schramski, College of Engineering
  • Jo Walther, College of Engineering
complex systems