Chaos and Complex Systems Seminar

Information for Speakers

The Chaos and Complex Systems Seminar was initiated in the fall of 1994 with the support of our former Chancellor John Wiley who was then Dean of the Graduate School.  It has met nearly every week since then during the academic year as well as less formally on the Union Terrace during the summer.  The goal is to bring together people from diverse disciplines across the campus and beyond who are studying complex and nonlinear systems that exhibit interesting and possibly chaotic dynamics and to establish interdepartmental collaborations.  Speakers have represented over 50 departments and many outside institutions.

The core group is small but highly diverse, including fields such as physics, chemistry, mathematics, meteorology, engineering, computer sciences, economics, communicative disorders, and psychology.  Many others attend only occasionally, depending on the topic.  On any given week, the attendance may range from about a dozen to several dozen.  The audience will range from undergraduate students to retired faculty with some members from the general public.  We ask speakers to talk in general terms and avoid jargon that would be unfamiliar to nonspecialists.  Try to use only the level of mathematics that is essential for discussing your topic and explain qualitatively the meaning of any equations and variables you use.  Feel free to discuss speculative and undeveloped ideas.

The best seminars are those in which the audience is encouraged to interact with the speaker rather than just listen to a lecture.  This can be done in two ways.  Either you can establish a dialog from the outset, or you can limit your presentation to about 40 minutes to allow 10-15 minutes of questions and discussion afterward.  Many speakers feel they have benefited from audience suggestions and questions, and the question period is usually the liveliest part of the seminar.  If you need more time to present your topic, we can often arrange multiple seminars in successive weeks or invite you back for a follow-up.  In any case, expect to be interrupted if you say something that is not clear.

We post the title and a short abstract for your talk on the Web  ( and distribute them weekly to our rather large e-mail list.   If you want to include references, links to Web resources, a PowerPoint presentation, or other supplementary material, we can post those on our Web site or put a link to yours.  We can also provide a link to material for people to read in advance of your seminar.  The lead time for getting adequate publicity is usually 3-4 weeks prior to your talk.  You will be contacted then for a title and abstract if you have not provided them, but the sooner you can provide them the better.

The seminars are held at 12:05 pm on Tuesdays in 4274 Chamberlin (1150 University Avenue).  You may enter through the entrance on University Avenue or on Charter Street.  Once in the building, make your way toward the center of the building where you will find an elevator, which you can take to the fourth floor.  Room 4274 is then just a few steps from the elevator.

The room has a chalkboard, overhead projector with screen, a 35 mm carousel slide projector, an LCD projector, and wireless Internet.  Most speakers bring their own laptop computer to connect to our projector.  If your computer is a Macintosh, please bring an adaptor for connecting to the VGA input of the projector.  The room also has a Mac Mini with Microsoft Office and a PDF viewer connected to the projector if you prefer just to bring a USB flash drive.  We can arrange for a videotape player and monitor with VGA input upon request.  If you have other special needs, let us know.  The room is usually open the hour before the seminar if you want to set up and test your equipment then, although you may need to enter through the secretary's office in room 4288 if the door to room 4274 is locked.

If you are unfamiliar with the campus, you can access a map showing the location of Chamberlin Hall.  If you are driving to campus, you can park at the State Street Campus Garage (aka Lake Street Ramp) about four blocks east of Chamberlin Hall near the intersection of Lake Street and the 700-block of University Avenue, from which Chamberlin Hall is about a ten-minute walk.

Finally, we encourage you to become a regular participant in the seminars if you are not already attending.  You will find the experience stimulating, and your participation will contribute to their continued success.