“The twenty-first century,” physicist Stephen Hawking said, “will be the century of complexity.” Likewise, the physicist Heinz Pagels said “the nations and people who master the new sciences of complexity will become the economic, cultural, and political superpowers of the twenty-first century.”

What excited people like Hawking and Pagels is that complexity is greatly influencing thought across all fields: computer science, physics, biology, mathematics, artificial intelligence, neurology, medical sciences, engineering of all types, and sociology and economics. 

Instead of looking at objects of study top-down in a reductionist manner as has been done for four centuries, complexity science seeks to look at its objects of study from the bottom up, seeing them as systems of interacting elements that form, change, and evolve over time. Complexity therefore is not so much a subject of research as a way of looking at systems. It is inherently interdisciplinary, meaning that it gets its problems from the real non-disciplinary world and its energy and ideas from all fields of science, at the same time affecting each of these fields. It is only through intense interdisciplinary collaboration that one can discover and learn to understand the underlying principles that govern the complexity of our world. It is only through such understanding that one can hope to match the grand challenges facing our world.

The Complexity Institute will establish complexity science at NTU. The Institute will build on the work that is already being done on complexity at NTU. Its objective is to create a world class Singaporean Institute for Complexity Science at NTU that serves Singapore and Asia, and that provides Singapore with a worldwide reputation as a place where excellent basic and ground braking interdisciplinary science provides the basis for sustainable economic dynamics and prosperity.