Nonlinear and Complex Physics

Nonlinear phenomena are ubiquitous in nature yet there are no general principles to guide our understanding of observed complex behaviour.  However, modern developments in nonlinear dynamics coupled with scaling and universality arguments have helped us make progress with problems ranging in scale from the quantum to the astrophysical.  These include solitons and vortices in optics, networks and disease propagation in biology, turbulence and pattern formation in classical physics.  Complexity extends these ideas to consider the central nature of change and evolution and places emphasis on the role of fluctuations and noise in self-organisation.  Progress is most often made using an interdisciplinary approach, coupling experiment with theory.  Drawing together connections between many of these areas has its roots in statistical physics and critical phenomena and the approach is now finding application in emerging areas such as soft matter, biophysics and indeed evolutionary biology and related fields.

The Group

The Nonlinear and Complex Physics group is one of around 50 special interest groups hosted by the UK Institute of Physics (IOP). Joining the group is free once you are a member of the IOP (and membership is free for students).  We have a wide diversity of members across the UK and beyond.  This includes school pupils, undergraduates and postgraduates, colleagues in industry, academics and those simply interested in complexity.

Activities of the Group

  • Providing a forum for discussion for the nonlinear and complex physics community
  • Hosting a programme of events including conferences, one-day meetings and workshops
  • Supporting research students through conference bursaries using the IOP Research Student Conference Fund


In 2017 we started an official partnership with the European Physical Society (EPS) Statistical and Nonlinear Physics Division, and look forward to collaborating with them further.