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SI2540 Complex Systems 7.5 credits

Complex systems, a.k.a. dynamical systems, refer to mathematical models describing the time evolution of systems by means of equations of motion and initial values. It is the solutions rather than the systems, or the models of the systems, that display complex features. Examples of such features are various ordered processes and structures, such as nonlinear oscillations and waves, as well as disordered chaotic processes and fractal structures. The models are formulated in terms of coupled nonlinear differential equations or, in the discrete case, as iterated maps. Nonlinearity is essential and key concepts are bifurcations, sensitive dependence on initial values, attractors and chaos. There are applications to physics, biology, chemistry, engineering and other areas. The course deals with analytical and numerical methods for the analysis of nonlinear models based on a small number of independent variables.

Course offerings are missing for current or upcoming semesters.
Headings with content from the Course syllabus SI2540 (Spring 2022–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

Coupled nonlinear differential equations. Phase space, trajectories. Iterative maps. Stability analysis of singular points. Limit cycles, strange attractors. Poincaré-Bendixson theorem. Bifurcations. Chaos. Lyapunov exponents. Feigenbaum renormalization. Fractals, fractal dimensions. Lorenz equations, logistic map, Hénon map, Rössler system. Applications to Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Engineering: Lasers. Superconducting Josephson junctions. Population dynamics. Chemical kinetics. Electronic oscillators. Nonlinear mechanical systems.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon completion of the course, you will 

  • be familiar with analytical and numerical methods for the analysis of coupled nonlinear differential equations
  • be able to interpret and characterize different solution types
  • know, and be able to develop, applications to physics, biology, chemistry, engineering and other areas

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

English B / English 6

Recommended prerequisites

Basic course in differential equations.


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Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

A, B, C, D, E, FX, F


  • INL1 - Assigment, 7.5 credits, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

Other requirements for final grade

Home assignments and an oral exam (INL1 + TEN1; 7,5 hp).

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

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Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

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Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course room in Canvas

Registered students find further information about the implementation of the course in the course room in Canvas. A link to the course room can be found under the tab Studies in the Personal menu at the start of the course.

Offered by

Main field of study


Education cycle

Second cycle

Add-on studies

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Chong Qi (