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Research centre to explain the complexity of real life

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The University of Manchester is developing a £3m research centre to provide cutting-edge research on complex, real-life systems such as car safety systems, flight controllers, power stations and the human body. The first projects are due to begin in October.

The Centre for Interdisciplinary Computational and Dynamical Analysis (CICADA) will bring biologists, mathematicians and engineers together to help understand problems that combine both discrete and continuous data.

Existing programs break down when analysing these systems, as they cannot cope with the complexity of continuous change. Unfortunately, many safety devices, such as electronic stability control in cars, have to rely on such systems, where failure could result in loss of life.

It is hoped the research will help to unlock the potential of existing, technologically advanced systems, that haven’t been integrated successfully into real-life situations because we cannot predict their behaviour accurately enough.

The research could also provide insights into biology, where continuous changes in chemical concentrations result in discrete changes in cells. Living organisms contain thousands of these processes interacting complex networks, and we currently have very few tools to understand this.