Lecture III - People and Tomorrow’s (Too Small) World

2012 Stanislaw Ulam Memorial Lectures: The Many Faces Of Complexity What having more people on Earth, with each of them having a longer life span and greater per-person impact on our environment, means for the world’s climate and ecosystems and the services they deliver (with emphasis on how little...

Lecture II - What Is Stability in Today’s Complex Financial Systems?

2012 Stanislaw Ulam Memorial Lectures: The Many Faces Of Complexity The economic crisis prompts May to explore how we might design financial services that satisfy their purpose of efficient distribution of capital in a free-market system but without the fragility and (hidden) costliness of our current...

Lecture I - Beauty and Truth in Mathematics and Science

2012 Stanislaw Ulam Memorial Lectures: The Many Faces Of Complexity May explores the extent to which beauty has guided, and still guides, humanity's quest to understand how the world works, with a brief look at the interactions among beliefs, values, beauty, truth, and our expectations for tomorrow's...

The Mathematical Regularities Underlying Both Biological and Social Systems

On the mathematical regularities underlying both biological and social systems

Evolution of Complexity and Intelligence on Earth

On the evolution of complexity and intelligence on earth

Algorithms, Equations, and Logic

In this talk, meant for a general audience, surprising relationships, are explored among the three concepts listed in the title, including unsolvable problems and Gödel undecidability. The discussion includes philosophical considerations.

Emergence of Complex Societies

How and why the state emerged in human history.

On the Interface between Movement and Sociality in Animal Behavior,and What Lies on Either Side

Scientists working on the study of animal groups are mainly divided between two schools: those who study social behaviour, and those who study spatial dynamics. Whilst these two dimensions are intrinsically linked, traditionally there has been little interaction between the two approaches. This is mostly...

Percolation — - New Algorithms for an Old Problem

Where do the holes go when the cheese is gone? While we leave this question to the philosophers, we will address a related question: how many holes can a cheese contain before it falls apart? Or, more general, how much local damage can a system bear before it breaks completely? Percolation theory has...

Reading Ancient Minds: Metaphor, Culture, and Complexity

How much does culture influence human societies? The traditional view in many fields is that material forces – land, climate, warfare – trump less tangible human conceptualizations like currencies and laws. But Ortman argues that we don’t really know, yet. Cognitive science suggests that conceptual metaphors...

Ulam's Demons

Stanislaw Ulam (1909-1984), one of the inspirations for SFI, performed useful work, without the visible expenditure of energy, by letting good ideas in and keeping bad ideas out. Four of the twentieth century’s most imaginative inventions — the Monte Carlo method, the hydrogen bomb, self-reproducing...

Models Behaving Badly: On Theories, Models, Intuition and Finance

Models are metaphors that explain the world we don't understand in terms of worlds we do. They are merely analogies, provide partial insight, stand on someone else's feet. Theories stand on their own feet, and rely on no analogies. Models tell you what something is more or less like; theories try to...

Limits of Unpredictability in the Evolution of Word Meanings: How the Study of Semantic Shifts May Help Linguistic Reconstruction

Since the emergence of comparative-historical linguistics as a separate branch of science in the XIXth century, the study of semantic change has steadily remained one of its weakest areas. Un­like phonetic change, where regular patterns may be established on large amounts of lexical data, semantic shifts...

The Emergence of Insurgency in Afghanistan

2012 REU Final Presentation

Modeling the Evolution of Trade in Small-Scale Societies

2012 REU Final Presentation

Evolution of Network Structure with Fixed Edges and Nodes

2012 REU Final Presentation

The Evolution of Economic Inequality and Political Hierarchy in Social Networks

2012 REU Final Presentation

On the Evolution of Altruistic Preferences in Networked Populations

2012 REU Final Presentation

The Lifespans of Publicly-Traded Companies

2012 REU Final Presentation

Principles of Complexity - Overview

From the rise of complex human institutions such as cities and nation states, to the evolution of intelligence in natural systems, complexity is a pervasive feature of our universe, our society, and our biological selves. Why should that be, and how can we study complexity, understand it, even predict...