In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, authors Gabriel Gellner and Kevin McCann from the University of Guelph and SFI External Professor Alan Hastings (UC Davis) invert a classical approach to modeling food webs. Instead of trying to replicate stable, complex ecosystems using simplistic representations of species interactions, the authors’ novel inverse method assumes the ecosystems exist and works backward to characterize food webs that support that assumption.
The Network Science Society announced SFI External Professors Aaron Clauset and Tina Eliassi-Rad as two of their 2023 Fellows in recognition for their contributions in network science. The ceremony was held in Vienna, Austria as part of the International Conference on Network Science.
There’s a debate among insect-cognition researchers, but the two camps have been arguing for so many decades that many onlookers are no longer sure what they are arguing about. SFI Postdoctoral Fellow Kelle Dhein, a philosopher and historian, published a paper in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science on February 28, 2023, clarifying the debate, with lessons for philosophers, historians, and scientists alike.
By using knowledge of phase transitions in physical systems, researchers can gain new insights into more efficient ways to answer questions about patterns and structures in sprawling datasets. SFI Professor Cris Moore recently organized a working group, held July 17–21 at SFI, that brought together experts from computer science, physics, and mathematics to explore connections between theoretical computer science and spin-glass theory, which is a framework for understanding phase transitions in complex materials.
In the sprawling high-desert landscape between Santa Fe and Eldorado, nine of SFI’s postdocs gathered in late May at a quiet rental for 72 Hours of Science — an intense annual three-day retreat of community-building, creativity, and mad-dash research.
Prediction is a key part of complex systems, in a wide variety of fields. Physicists and mathematicians use prediction performance to evaluate their models of mechanical systems; engineering prediction algorithms can inform the design of complicated devices. Prediction is also integral in artificial intelligence, in large language models like ChatGPT, which are designed to predict a word or words that follow from a prompt. A July 10–14 workshop at SFI called “Sensory Prediction: Engineered and Evolved” met to discuss how to build better models of prediction in living organisms.
Graduate students and early-career scholars, as well as change-makers in civil society and industry, based in South Asia and Africa are invited to apply for the first Complexity Global School (CGS) for Emerging Political Economies. CGS will run two concurrent schools — one in South Africa and one in India — December 3–15, 2023. All accepted participants will receive full scholarships, and travel stipends where applicable.
The Santa Fe Institute’s Board of Trustees welcomed Dan Tierney as a new member during the May 2023 Science Board & Board of Trustees Symposium. Tierney, an investor and the founder of Wicklow Capital, describes himself as a systems thinker, innately drawn to interdisciplinary approaches and innovation.
SFI External Professor France Córdova received an honorary doctorate from Yale University during its 2023 commencement ceremony in May. Granted the degree of Doctor of Science, Córdova was one of nine honorary graduates.
SFI Fractal Faculty member Kyle Harper, who joined SFI in August 2022, takes an unconventional approach to his studies of Roman history at the University of Oklahoma. With a long-held interest in physics, Harper brings a complex-systems lens to the study of the human past as he explores the rise of technologies, environmental change and constraints, and the spread of diseases. In July 2022, Harper sat down to talk with SFI President David Krakauer about his work. Here are clips from their conversation.
In a new study published in PNAS, External Professor and UC Davis professor emeritus Alan Hastings and colleagues analyzed a case of social contagion in Adouin's gulls in Spain.
SFI's David Wolpert's No-free-lunch theorems have stirred up many opinions over the past few decades. Wolpert chimes in on the conversation in a new piece in the Journal for General Philosophy of Science.
James Hartle, External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute and Professor of Physics Emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara, passed away on May 17 in Switzerland at the age of 83. A longtime familiar face at SFI, Jim offered profound insights into conversations in a characteristically gentle manner. He will be missed immensely.
Registration for virtual participation in SFI’s three-day Collective Intelligence Symposium & Short Course (CISSC) is now open. With a sold-out in-person event, organizers are offering live streaming and virtual access to posters for remote participants. The $100 online-only registration fee also provides lifetime access to video recordings of the meeting. Seats via Zoom are limited. Interested participants are encouraged to register soon.
Study: Balancing economic and epidemiological interventions in the early stages of pathogen emergence
A new study in Science Advances proposes a model for examining the interplay of epidemiology and economics that could give policymakers guidelines when we face novel outbreaks in the future.
Is human reproduction exceptionally egalitarian compared to other mammals, or do we have high "reproductive skew"? It's a question that a team of more than 100 researchers tackled in a recent paper published in PNAS. Their finding? “Human exceptionalism has been greatly exaggerated,” says SFI External Professor Monique Borgerhoff Mulder (UC Davis).
James Pelkey, former member of the SFI Board of Trustees, passed away on February 16, 2023, at the age of 77 in Maui, Hawaii. A committed supporter of the research carried out at SFI, Pelkey served on SFI’s Board of Trustees for a decade, and became the Chair of the Board from 1990-1992.