Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Outline

What Students Will Do In This Course

  • Read the academic literature, including faculty notes and papers
  • Learn and practice some existing analytical methods, mainly network methods
  • Appreciate the wide range of domains where theory and methods have been applied
  • Critique existing theory and methods
  • Share knowledge and experience
  • Analyze some real systems in detail
  • Distill common concepts that emerge from theory and that apply to many kinds of systems

Learning Objectives

  • Gain a research-level understanding of system architecture
  • Learn existing theoretical and analytical methods with particular emphasis on network analysis
  • Begin to develop some modeling skills of possible benefit in complex engineering systems
  • Compare systems in different domains (communication, engineering, organizations, infrastructures, and biology) and understand what influences their architectures
  • Apply/extend existing theory and modeling in case studies

Textbook and Readings

Readings are an important part of the course, as they fuel discussions. The required text for this course is:

Watts, Duncan. Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co., 2004. ISBN: 9780393325423.

In addition, we will assign additional research literature to read before class. Occasionally we will recommend optional background literature as well.


In-class participation (especially reading connections) 15%
Two homework assignments 25%
Project (60% of final grade)
First status presentation 10%
Modeling status presentation 15%
Final presentation 15%
Final written report 20%

Course Info

Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes