Science and Engineering of Complex Systems

PUNE |SATURDAY, 19 JANUARY 2019 | 8.00 AM - 6.00 PM

Complex systems are characterized by 'emergent behavior' that are not exhibited by any of their parts. Examples include 'emergence of consciousness in brain although none of the neurons by themselves are conscious; emergence of economic booms and busts when individuals buy and sell goods; and emergence of engineering defects including software bugs. In addition, causal relationships among parts are intractable due to multiple feedback loops, resulting in unintended side-effects and sudden changes in the state of a system, such as defects in products or side-effects of medicines. By this semantics, the entire world is complex. Such systems cannot be studied, communicated, and designed by merely dividing them into individual parts, often called the 'Reductionist Approach', instead requires a different, 'Holistic Approach'. Scientists and engineers can benefit from this approach in their pursuits since all real world systems and their useful models are complex. It is not only challenging to understand, communicate, design, and maintain complex systems, but it also calls for a shift in thinking style to deal with these challenges. In addition, each discipline of science and engineering has a different 'shade' of complexity. With a growing trend of using computational methods to either understand Nature or to design systems, it is imperative to have a fresh perspective of complexity, and the relevant computational methods.

In this symposium, a Thoughtworks Engineering for Research (E4R) initiative, we addressed the need for a new approach to understand and compute complex systems. Speakers from diverse fields ranging from physical sciences such as quantum mechanics & cosmology to physiology, ecology, economics, and engineering shared their insights and vision on this topic, to help academicians, scientists, and engineers in their pursuits to understand and manage complex systems.


8.00 AM - 9.00 AMRegistration and Breakfast
9.00 AM - 9.15 AMIntroducing E4R Symposium, How TW looks at E4R and Our CommitmentGunjan Shukla, Global Head of Demand Operations, Thoughtworks; Santosh Mahale, Client Partner, Thoughtworks
9.20 AM - 10.05 AMOpening Keynote: Exploring the Relationship Between Innovation and Catastrophe in Complex Adaptive SystemsDr. Sanjay Jain, Professor and Head, Dept. of Physics and Astrophysics, Delhi University
10.10 AM - 10.55 AMNetworked, non-linear and far-from-equilibrium: Complexity Science as a Framework for Modeling the Real WorldDr. Sitabhra Sinha, Professor, The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai
10.55 AM - 11.10 AMTea Break
11.15 AM - 12.00 PMComplexity in Living Systems Dr. K.V. Venkatesh, Professor and Head, Dept. of Chemical Engineering, IIT Mumbai
12.05 PM - 12.50 PMModeling Complex Interactions in Natural SystemsDr. Janaki Balakrishnan, Professor and Head of Complex Systems Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru
12.50 PM - 1.45 PMLunch Break
1.45 PM - 2.30 PMAn Overview of Economic and Financial ComplexityAnindya S. Chakrabarti, Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
2.35 PM - 3.20 PMChallenges in Electro-Optical Systems Development for Space MissionsDr. G. Nagendra Rao, Former Director, Laboratory of Electro-Optics Systems of Indian Space Research Organization, Bengaluru
3.20 PM - 3.35 PMTea Break
3.35 PM - 4.20 PMClosing Keynote: A Modular Compositional Approach to Engineering Complex SystemsDr. Swaminathan Natarajan, Chief Scientist - TCS Research, Chennai
4.20 PM - 4.30 PMVote of ThanksUnmesh Joshi, Head of Technology, Thoughtworks India
4.30 PM - 6.00 PMOpen ForumQ&A, Networking


Dr. Sanjay Jain

Dr. Sanjay Jain

Head of Department of Physics and AstroPhysics, University of Delhi

Dr Sanjay Jain is a theoretical physicist. His area of works spans from theoretical systems biology to complex chemical, biological and socio-economic networks. His areas of works also include models of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, quantum chaos, Quantum field theory, superstring theory and quantum gravity.

Dr. Sitabhra Sinha

Professor, The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai

Dr. Sitabhra Sinha is Professor of Theoretical Physics and Computational Biology at the

Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc), Chennai, India. He received his PhD from the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, for research on the non-linear dynamics of excitatory-inhibitory neural network models in 1998. Following postdoctoral positions at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and the Weill Medical College of Cornell

University, New York City, he joined the faculty of IMSc in 2002. His research area is complex systems and data science, with interests in networks, non-linear dynamics, biological pattern formation, modeling physiological systems, applying statistical physics to understand social and economic phenomena and computational linguistics. He has previously been adjunct faculty member of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, and the Department of Computer Science & Engineering at IIT Kharagpur, India.

Dr. G. Nagendra Rao

Dr. G. Nagendra Rao

ISRO - ex Director LEOS (Laboratory of Electro- Optics Systems), URSC

Dr. G. Nagendra Rao joined ISRO in 1981 . He is a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from IISc.

He served as a selected member of the distinguished ISRO Strategy Group and contributed in the development of high accuracy star trackers, high accuracy fiber optic Gyroscope for GSAT -12 spacecraft. He contributed immensely in the development of the Lyman-Alpha photometer payload flown in MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission).

Dr K.V. Venkatesh

Dr K.V. Venkatesh

Head of Department - Chemical Engineering, IIT Mumbai

He is a pioneer in the areas of Systems Biology, Network analysis and modeling, Synthetic Biology and Metabolic and regulatory networks research in India with more than a decade of experience.

He has contributed significantly to research in the areas of quantification of biological networks including genetic, signaling and metabolic pathways, metabolic engineering and his group has developed steady state gene expression simulator, methods using elementary modes to quantify phenotypic space and complete whole-body metabolic model for humans.

He is recipient of several awards including the INSA Young Scientist Award to being an International judge for international Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM-2009), MIT USA.

Dr. Janaki Balakrishnan

Dr. Janaki Balakrishnan

Professor & Head, Complex Systems Programme, NIAS

Prof. Janaki Balakrishnan obtained her PhD in Theoretical High Energy Physics from the University of Delhi. She subsequently worked and published in a wide range of areas covering many diverse areas of physics, ranging from quantum field theory in curved space and theoretical high energy physics to dynamical systems theory and biological physics. She was an Associate Professor of Physics

at the Central University of Hyderabad for several years before moving to Bangalore. Earlier she

has held Visiting and other positions at various places including the Institute of Mathematical

Sciences, Chennai, Centre for Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (CAIR), Bangalore, CMMACS,

Bangalore, JNCASR, Indian Institute of Science, Raman Research Institute, The University of

Newcastle-upon-Tyne, U.K., Max-Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences, Leipzig,

Germany, the Max-Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Dresden, Germany, etc.

She is also a Guest Faculty at the Indian Institute of Science where she teaches the course: “Introduction to Dynamical Systems Theory”.

Dr. Anindya S. Chakrabarti

Dr. Anindya S. Chakrabarti

Assistant Professor, IIM Ahmedabad, Economics area

Dr. Chakrabarti's main research interest is in characterization and modeling of large scale economic and financial networks, learning in multi-agent systems, and macroeconomic dynamics. He received his Ph.D. from Boston University in 2015. He has also published in internationally reputed journals of economics and physics such as Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Scientific

Reports, Physical Review E and European Physical Journal B.

Dr. Swaminathan Natarajan

Dr. Swaminathan Natarajan

Chief Scientist, Tata Consultancy Services Research

Dr. N. Swaminathan obtained his B. Tech from IIT Madras in 1983, and his Ph.D. in Computer

Science from the University of Illinois in 1989. His areas of interest include systems

engineering, systems science and real-time systems. He has experience both in academia and

industry, including stints at RIT, Xerox and Motorola India. Currently he is working with Tata

Consultancy Services at their Systems Research Lab in Chennai, on a model-driven approach to

machine control and a holistic approach to modelling and understanding systems.

Gunjan Shukla

Gunjan Shukla

Global Operations Lead, Thoughtworks

Gunjan leverages her fifteen years of technology industry experience, at Thoughtworks, as part of the global core operating group. She works directly with the company's COO, providing operations cover for emerging countries within the Thoughtworks portfolio.

Gunjan strongly believes in the importance of fundamentals when preparing for big, futuristic leaps, and she exercises this ideology in her role as the Engineering for Research Practice's Lead, for India.

Unmesh Joshi

Unmesh Joshi

Head of Technology, Thoughtworks India

Unmesh has worked on designing and architecting solutions for wide variety of business applications and enterprise clients. He has experience working with technologies ranging from C++, Java, Ruby to node.js and has successfully applied Agile practices like Evolutionary architecture, Continuous Delivery and TDD in projects using these technologies.

Santosh Mahale

Santosh Mahale

Client Partner, Thoughtworks

Santosh has 2 decades of experience in building software. As a developer Santosh has diverse experience from building instrumentation software using C/ C++ to hedge fund management systems using .NET. As a client partner with Thoughtworks, Santosh plays a key role in shaping our strategies, solutioning engagements, and managing customer relationships. 

He strongly believes software plays a key role in accelerating scientific research, which would in turn provide patterns and solutions to the problems of future enterprises. Santosh is one of the founding members of the E4R Practice within Thoughtworks, to work on building a community of Industry, Academia and Scientists, working on the most challenging problems in the research domain.

Thoughtworks Engineering for Research

Thoughtworks Engineering for Research (E4R) Practice is our initiative to apply computational methods to advance research in the scientific disciplines such as astronomy, physiology, genomics, economics, and disaster response in societies, but not limited to these. With this practice, Thoughtworks is committed to the 14th Engineering Grand Challenge.

Our approach is built upon over 25 years of hands-on experience, paired with our deep technical expertise in the areas that are core to every enterprise’s technology strategy.

The intention is to build a community, working exclusively with research organizations for building tools for scientific exploration, that will enable us to discovery patterns, frameworks and computer-science of the third horizon.


Thoughtworks Technologies India Pvt. Ltd.

6th Floor, Binarius Building

Deepak Complex, National Games Road

Shastrinagar, Yerawada





Registration closed.

Thanks for your interest in E4R Symposium 2019. Hope to see you for the next edition.

E4R Symposium 2018

Thoughtworks’ Engineering for Research organized the first Computational Science and Engineering Symposium in March 2018. The forum hosted scientists and researchers from across scientific disciplines, alongside engineers and technologists to discuss and design solutions for computation challenges. We see this as the beginning of a computational-science community building exercise in Indian context.