PIMS Lunchbox Lecture: Jöern Davidsen

  • Date: 05/24/2018

Dr. Jöern Davidsen

Associate Professor of Physics & Humboldt Research Fellow, University of Calgary


University of Calgary - Downtown Campus


Physics of complex systems: Triggering processes and information cascades


Physical, geophysical, chemical, living and man-made systems often show behaviors that cannot be understood by studying their building blocks or constituents to ever finer detail but that are emergent. The concept of emergence can be summarized by the statement that there exists an entity (e.g. an organism) which is more than the sum of its parts. Systems showing emergence are typically considered complex. This lack of simple additivity in complex systems renders linear approaches and traditional experimental and analytic frameworks useless and has led to the new scientific field of complexity science, which uses system-level approaches. Prominent examples of complex systems include the brain and interacting populations of earthquake faults, with immense importance for society: Recent catastrophic earthquakes in Japan, Haiti, Italy and Indonesia (loss of life > 550,000, economical damage > $US 200 billion) and ever-increasing population density in large metropolitan areas near major active faults (e.g., Mexico City, Istanbul, San Francisco bay area) highlight the great societal importance of predicting and forecasting naturally occurring earthquakes. This is also true for earthquakes unintendedly induced by geoengineering activities, such as hydraulic fracturing — a key enabling technology for unconventional resource development in the oil and gas industry. Another example is the brain. Understanding the relationship between structure, dynamics and function in the brain is a crucial step towards innovative solutions for brain-related diseases such as epilepsy and the goal of large-scale research projects such as the CAD $1.6 billion Human Brain Project. In this talk, I will focus on the broad theme of triggering processes and information cascades as one specific approach to model complex systems.




Where: Room 234, University of Calgary Downtown Campus 906 8 Avenue SW, Calgary, AB

Date: Thursday, May 24, 2018

When: 12:00-1:00pm


SIGN-UP DEADLINE: May 21, 2018

Other Information: 

The Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences is grateful to Alberta Advanced Education and Technology, and the University of Calgary for their support of this series of lectures.