Working Group

All day


Our campus is closed to the public for this event.

The question of how large-scale patterns emerge from local interactions arises in various forms across the sciences. In that sense, the question is universal -- but how universal is the answer? This is the problem that our working group will address. The study of spin systems in statistical physics provides a starting point by defining robust “universality classes”, or categories of dynamical systems in which large-scale patterns emerge in a common way despite differences in the details governing local interactions. More recent research has shown that some spatially structured ecological systems fall into the same universality classes identified for spin systems. This opens the exciting opportunity to understand ecological spatial patterns without perfect knowledge of the local details, and also to understand which local details we must know in order to correctly predict synchrony. More broadly, it identifies universality as a concept that can be usefully applied to understand biological pattern formation. In this working group, participants from physics, ecology, and other areas of biology such as neuroscience and development, will discuss common features in the scaling of local processes to large-scale patterns, and identify research priorities for using these commonalities as the basis for new understanding. 


Jon MachtaJon MachtaExternal Professor
Alan HastingsAlan HastingsExternal Professor
Karen AbbottKaren AbbottProfessor, Associate Chair Department of Biology at Case Western Reserve University

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