McNamara Research Group

Complex systems are systems containing nonlinear interactions and dissipative processes. In nontechnical language let’s just say, they are messy. And despite this messiness, there are aspects of these systems that can be described somewhat simply. Take me for example. The multitude of interactions inside my body are fantastically complicated. Yet, here I sit typing and if you were watching me type you’d say, “look at Dylan typing”. No mention of my neuron dynamics or my complicated blood chemistry. You might even be able to make a prediction about the dynamics of Dylan. “I think Dylan needs coffee, I bet he gets some here soon”. So complex systems are complicated on one scale and simple on another. The scientific toolset to analyze complex systems is relatively new, at least in comparison to the traditional analytic tools that were developed to attack linear systems. This new tool set includes topics like nonlinear dynamical systems, cellular automata, and agent-based modeling. All of this to say, the research in my group is defined by the use of these tools to tackle complex systems. The particular systems we tackle are whichever ones looks fun to us. In the past it’s been human-environmental systems (mostly coastlines), coral reefs, and large-scale ocean circulation, just to name a few. Have a look around my website to see some details.

A bunch of of attractors.
Gilpin, W. (2021) arXiv:2110.05266

About me

I am a physicist and physical oceanographer. That’s what my title says. Which basically means I’ve taken a bunch of courses in those areas and now I teach such courses. But when it comes to research, I have a short attention span. I jump around. As mentioned above, my tool set is associated with complex systems science. I’ve applied these tools in physics, oceanography, ecology, and even economics.

Dr. Dylan McNamara

  • (2006) Ph.D. Oceanography, SIO/UCSD
  • (1999) M.S. Physics, SDSU


10 February, 2024

Talk Coming - Physics for Surfers: Some stuff you knew you didn't know and some stuff you didn't know you knew.

January, 2024

New NSF grant funded - Prospects and limitations of predicting a potential collapse of the AMOC

... see all News