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FOUNDATIONS AND APPLICATIONS OF EMERGENCE

A RESEARCH INITIATIVE AT THE FACULTY OF SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF AMSTERDAM, AIMING AT UNDERSTANDING EMERGENT PHENOMENA

FAEME | GOALS

Foundations and Applications of Emergence (FAEME) is a research priority area at the Faculty of Science (FNWI) at the University of Amsterdam founded in 2022. FAEME gathers expertise from the research clusters DIEP@UvA, AI4Science Lab and AMCOOL, and is a joint effort of the Institute of Physics (IoP), the Korteweg-de Vries Institute for Mathematics (KdVI), the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC), the Informatics Institute (IvI), the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS), the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystems Dynamics (IBED) and Anton Pannekoek Institue for Astronomy (API).

 
Its goal is to create an interdisciplinary research programme among these different institutes that aims at understanding the foundations of emergence and tackle emergent phenomena. FAEME gathers expertise covering subjects such as (quantum) information theory, non-equilibrium statistical physics, theory of critical phenomena, experiments on (quantum) systems and living systems, reaction networks, multiscale modelling, machine learning, complex system theory, agent-based modelling, causal inference, evolutionary game theory, network analysis and stochastic methods.

THE CORE PROBLEM OF EMERGENCE

Emergent phenomena are ubiquitous in nature and cover all length scales. Laboratories at FNWI and around the world detect it on a daily basis: from novel phases of matter in physics, through pattern formation in molecular structures in chemistry to new collective behaviour in insects. A large body of theoretical investigations continuously tackles emergence at various levels of abstraction: emergence of space, time and matter; emergent properties in complex, stochastic, active or living systems; emergent structures in mathematical models, deep learning and neural networks; emergent group behaviour in the form of various processes of evolution, adaptation, learning, cooperation and intelligence. However, despite multiple efforts from various perspectives, the question

 

Is there a fundamental theory of Emergent behaviour?

 

still awaits an answer. Answering this question is as daunting as understanding the whole of science since its range of applicability ranges from the big bang to the large-scale structure of the universe, from quantum physics to chemical reactions or from genetic microevolution to macroevolution at the level of species. FAEME's approach is to dissect this fundamental challenge into the answers to the following three interconnected challenges applicable to any given emergent phenomena

 

What is the microscopic theory underlying a given emergent phenomena?

What is the macroscopic theory describing the observed collective behaviour?

How are these two levels of reality (microscopic and macroscopic) related?

 

FAEME aims at tackling these major challenges by applying various methodologies and by using experimental data to include as many universality classes of emergent phenomena as possible. In other words, FAEME aims at uncovering general principles underlying the theory of emergent phenomena rooted in a large and growing collection of specific examples. 

 

Concretely, FAEME will focus on addressing important questions such as:

  • Can we detect, infer, characterise and measure emergent properties in a model independent way?

  • Under what conditions can we predict what macroscopic phenomena will emerge from an underlying microscopic theory?

  • What are the simplest complex systems which emulate living/intelligent systems and are able to demonstrate emergent cooperative or learning dynamics?

 

OPEN CALLS AND POSITIONS

FAEME will be advertising various open calls for visitor programs, workshops as well as PhD and postdoctoral EMERGENCE fellowship positions throughout the period 2022-2027. In addition FAEME will be organising various activities and events including a regular series of Emergence seminars. Current open calls include:

FAEME | BOARD AND CORE GROUP

The FAEME board is composed of a representation from each of the institutes involved [Institute of Physics (IoP), the Korteweg-de Vries Institute for Mathematics (KdVI), the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC), the Informatics Institute (IvI), the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS), the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) and the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy (API)]. 

Jan de Boer

Quantum gravity, string theory | IoP | DIEP board member

Computational chemistry |HIMS 

Quantum matter|IoP

Multiscale dynamical systems | KdVI

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Logic, information theory, game theory | ILLC

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Complex systems, network theory | IvI & IAS

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Complex systems, network theory | IvI & IAS

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Out of equilibrium systems, string theory, coordination | IoP

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Chemical ecology, evolutionary biology | IBED

Astrophysics, exoplanets | API

Chemical Physics, astrochemistry, prebiotic chemistry | HIMS

Machine learning, artificial intelligence | IvI