Complexity Explorer Santa Few Institute

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How long will this tutorial be available? This tutorial will always be available.  Unlike our courses, tutorials are always available, and completely self-paced. 

Who is the instructor? Dr. Bill Rand.




How much does it cost? Nothing. The tutorial is completely free.

How is the tutorial funded? This tutorial is funded by the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) through a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, and by donations from users.   In order to support future courses and tutorials, we will be asking for small, voluntary donations to cover the costs of developing and providing these materials.




Who is the intended audience and what are the prerequisites? This tutorial is intended for people who want to gain familiarity with, or review, mathematical topics important for understanding complex systems.   Each of the tutorials has its own pre-requisites:  some are for people with no more than high-school algebra, and some are for more advanced students. 




How does the tutorial work? Each tutorial consists of a series of short videos, with each video corresponding to subtopics of the tutorial's main topic. The tutorial website leads you through the videos in order, allowing you to skip or repeat videos as you desire. You can watch these videos at your own pace and in any order you desire; once posted, they will remain available indefinitely.  The videos are interspersed with short exercises and quizzes, designed to test your understanding of the material covered in the previous video.  Unlike a course, this tutorial does not have end-of-tutorial tests, and  does not offer a grade or a certificate. 




What about exercises and quizzes? Many videos are followed by a short exercises or quiz that you can do online and that is graded automatically. The purpose of the exercises and quizzes is to allow you to try out simulations, to see how well you have understood the material in the video, and to see what you might need to review.

What about homework? Each tutorial will offer a homework assignment (not to be turned in) and homework solutions, so you can check your work. 




How is the tutorial graded?  This tutorial is not graded. 




Will I receive a certificate for completing this tutorial?  No, this tutorial does not provide a certificate.

Can I get university credit for this tutorial? No, not at this time. It is possible that in the future we may be able to partner with colleges and universities so as to offer our courses and tutorials for credit, but there is currently no mechanism for this.




Is there a required textbook? No textbook is required.  Some lectures will be complemented by  suggested readings that will be listed in the Supplementary Materials page. We highly encourage students to check them as well as our larger Resources and Glossary sections out to get the most out of this tutorial. 




In what ways am I allowed to use these resources?  All the materials on this site are available for your use for any non-commercial purpose. All materials (videos, code, write-ups, etc.) are covered by the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License ( ). This states that you may copy, distribute, and transmit the work under the condition that you give attribution to, and your use is for non-commercial purposes.




Are subtitles available?  The Complexity Explorer Project has an on-going project in which users volunteer to create subtitles in different languages.  If subtitles are available for a given video they can be accessed in the following way.  First, start and pause the video.  A tool bar will now be visible along the bottom of the video.  Second, click on the gear-shaped button located directly to the right of the “CC” button.  A list of available languages will be shown in the middle drop-down menu located in the box the opens after hitting the gear-shaped button.  Select the language you would like to use for subtitles and click on it.  

How do I download and use subtitles offline? You can download videos and available subtitles to watch offline if you wish. Information on downloading videos is located below under technical requirements.  In order to make the subtitles you download play with the video, you will need to go through a few steps.  Our suggested method is detailed in this help document.  Click the link to download the instructional pdf. 

Can I download a plain text transcript of the video? For any video that has subtitles available, there will also be a plain text transcript (in .txt format) available for download, for each subtitle language available.  When you click on Subtitles & Transcripts you will be given all of the language options available, and you can choose to download either the subtitle or the transcript, or both.  




Do I have to enroll to take the tutorial?   No, you don't need to enroll.  However, enrolling has three benefits:  (1) the system will keep track of your progress in the tutorial, and always return you to the segment you are currently on; (2) you will be able to post to the forum; (3) We will inform you by email when new tutorials have been posted.   Enrollment is easy, quick, and free!

How do I enroll? Go to, then to Tutorials, and click the “Enroll” button next to this tutorial. You will be guided through the short enrollment process.

How do I complete a tutorial? As you navigate through the tutorial watching videos and taking quizzes, each section will be marked as complete.  You can also complete a section by checking off segments manually, by clicking in the box to the left of the segment, subunit, or unit.  Once a tutorial is completed, it will still be available to you but it will move to "My Completed Tutorials".




How much time does the tutorial require?  This depends entirely on which tutorials you work on; different tutorials will have different levels of difficulty. This tutorial has ~2 hours of video content. 




What are the rules on collaboration with other people? You are free, and encouraged, to discuss anything with anyone!  The tutorial  hosts an online forum for students to discuss the tutorial material.

What is this Forum you've been talking about? The tutorial  hosts a forum in which tutorial participants can post questions, answers, and otherwise discuss the tutorial contents. Questions posted to this forum are answered by other students.

Will there be any other kind of social networking for participants? We hope to help organize local "Meetups" via the tutorial forum for participants who would like to meet in person.




How do I get the videos to play at a faster rate (e.g., 2x)?  Our videos are streamed through YouTube.  You can opt in on YouTube for their html5 player, which allows you to speed up or slow down videos.  To opt in, go to

Can I download the videos directly, rather than watching them via YouTube?  Yes, just click on the "Download" button that appears in the Summary view of the Lectures page.   We will also make all the videos for each tutorial available as zip files on the Supplementary Materials page. 




What if I have more questions? Please address any other questions you have to