The University of Southampton

The Agents, Interaction and Complexity group (AIC) undertakes world‐leading research into the science and engineering of complex socio‐technical, socio‐economic and socio‐ecological systems that underpin the most pressing challenges currently facing society. 

Update subcontent image with zoomCancel The Agents, Interaction and Complexity group (AIC)

Problems as diverse as engineering resilient and sustainable smart infrastructure, or refactoring health‐care systems to cope with demographic change, or anticipating and mitigating the impacts of climate change, all involve building and analysing complex systems comprising many interacting agents, including people and other organisms, hardware robots and autonomous software agents.

Our research ranges from theoretical modelling of the fundamental nature of such systems, their constituent actors and their dynamics, to the development and deployment of real‐world applications, informed by these models. This work draws inspiration and insight from a broad range of related disciplines including biology, economics, psychology, physics, neuroscience and mathematics whose fusion with computer science and electronic engineering provides a vibrant and fundamentally interdisciplinary research culture.

In more detail, we are interested in understanding and building systems in which autonomous entities (be they biological organisms, humans, software agents or robots) interact with one another in order to achieve individual and collective goals. We are interested in understanding the mechanisms by which cooperation, coordination and negotiation arise within these systems, and in predicting the aggregate behaviour of such systems when interaction occurs on a large scale. We seek to use these insights to better engineer systems in which human‐human, human‐agent and agent‐agent interaction occurs, to understand how the mechanisms of interaction can be designed to give desirable outcomes, and how we may ensure robustness and resilience in the face of uncertainty, dynamism and interdependence.

The range of application sectors we work in includes finance, energy and sustainability, ecosystems services, national infrastructure, health and disaster response. Our collaborators include BAE Systems, BT, DSTL, Hampshire County Council, the NHS, and Secure Meters Ltd.