### Research brief: The emergence and perils of polarization

We can’t understand polarization unless we analyze it as a complex system, argues SFI External Professor Scott Page (University of Michigan) in a commentary for a special feature on the dynamics of political polarization in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

### Research brief: Polarization, diversity, and democratic robustness

Polarization is dangerous for democracy. Though the U.S. Constitution was designed to harness rivalry with a diverse, redundant, and modular set of institutions, if that rivalry curdles into the belief that your competitors are your enemies, those institutions may not be strong enough to hold a nation together. In a Perspective piece in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, SFI External Professor Jenna Bednar (University of Michigan) argues that polarization poses three perils in particular.

### Preventing extreme polarization of political attitudes

A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests extreme polarization can be avoided when two sides of a stubbornly intolerant population have low exposure to each other. This paper is part of a PNAS special issue on the dynamics of polarization.

### Apply now for Complexity–GAINs International Summer School

SFI and EU partners launch International Summer School focused on social disintegration. Applications open through January 18, 2022.

### Yuanzhao Zhang receives inaugural award from Complex Systems Society

Yuanzhao Zhang, a Schmidt Science Fellow at SFI, was one of three recipients of the Complex Systems Society’s 2021 Emerging Researcher Award.

### Strengthening the second law of thermodynamics

For the past few years, SFI Professor David Wolpert and physicist Artemy Kolchinsky, a former SFI postdoctoral fellow, have been collaborating to better understand the connection between thermodynamics and information processing in computation. Their latest exploration of the topic, published in Physical Review E, looks at applying these ideas to a wide range of classical and quantum areas, including quantum thermodynamics.

### The Complex Alternative: Complexity Scientists on the COVID-19 Pandemic

A new book from the SFI Press, edited by David Krakauer Geoffrey West, underscores the importance of resisting simple answers in combatting such a complex phenomenon as a global pandemic and instead recognizing its inherently messy nature.

### When is a basin of attraction like an octopus?

Mathematicians who study dynamical systems often focus on the rules of attraction, finding the “basins” that show the states the systems are drawn to. For straightforward systems, the shape and size of a basin is comprehensible, but not so for more complicated systems. In fact, they may look like the tentacles of an octopus, according to a new paper by SFI Postdoc Yuanzhao Zhang and co-author Steven Strogatz.

### Complex Systems Society honors Orit Peleg with 2021 Junior Scientific Award

The Complex Systems Society has awarded a 2021 Junior Scientific Award to SFI External Professor Orit Peleg, an assistant professor in the University of Colorado’s Department of Computer Science and BioFrontiers Institute.

### Some colleges are mammals, others are cities

A new study by Santa Fe Institute researchers examines how scale affects factors like tuition, research production, and teaching salaries in different categories of colleges and universities. The research, published in PLOS ONE, is the first to systematically look at interconnected scaling effects in U.S. higher education.

### New documentary captures power of complexity to safeguard humanity’s future

Will the 21st century be humanity’s greatest, or our worst? According to the award-winning new documentary “Solutions,” which was filmed on-location at the Santa Fe Institute, the answer depends on the decisions we make in the next couple of decades, and on our ability to work across disciplines and continents to find revolutionary solutions.

### New tool untangles complex dynamics on hypergraphs

Networks are a powerful model for describing connected systems in biological, physical, social, and other environments. As useful as they are, though, conventional networks are static and are limited to describing links between pairs of objects. In a paper published in Communications Physics, SFI Schmidt Science Fellow Yuanzhao Zhang and collaborators describe a new framework for simplifying the analysis of synchronization patterns in a wide variety of systems that include hypergraphs, temporal networks, and multilayer networks.

### When does reputation lie?

Is merit necessarily achieved, or does social status influence whether a person succeeds or is trapped in a system? Former SFI Postdoctoral Fellows Eleanor Power and Marion Dumas, together with their colleague Jessica Barker, explore these questions in a new paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

### SFI applauds first Nobel Prize for complex systems research

SFI researchers cheered this October when the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Syukuro Manabe, Klauss Hasselmann, and Giorgio Parisi "for groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex systems.”

### Virtual workshop takes a hard think about thinking

In July, a virtual SFI. workshop began to investigate new ways of understanding how the brain computes using newly developed ideas in thermodynamics and information theory.

### Stuart Firestein joins Fractal Faculty

Stuart Firestein, a neuroscientist who specializes in the olfactory system and who is obsessed with the history, evolution, and future of science, joins SFI's Fractal Faculty.

### SFI working group fits missing piece to statistics of complex systems

In February. of 2020, a small SFI working group convened to find the third signature of nonextensive statistical mechanics, namely the distribution of energies. They have published their results in a recent paper in the journal Nonlinear Dynamics.

### Researchers play devil’s advocate to explore where algorithms can't

In a paper presented at the 2021 Conference on Learning Theory, Cris Moore and his collaborators describe a new way to construct problems with hidden solutions, where algorithms come up empty.

### External Professor André de Roos shakes up established ideas in theoretical ecology

Mathematicians call him an ecologist, ecologists call him a mathematician. SFI External Professor André de Roos is comfortable in interdisciplinary research settings, from Santa Fe to Sweden, where he is currently visiting Umea University's Integrated Science Lab on an H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf Professorship in Environmental Science.