Brown University, Providence, RI/USA
Emergent phenomena are properties of a system of many components which are only evident or even meaningful for the collection as a whole. A typical example is a system of many molecules, whose bulk properties may change from those of a fluid to those of a solid in response to changes in temperature or pressure. The basic mathematical tool for understanding emergent phenomena is the variational principle, most often employed via entropy maximization. The difficulty of analyzing emergent phenomena, however, makes empirical work essential; computations generate conjectures and their results are often our best judge of the truth.
The semester will include three workshops that will concentrate on different aspects of current interest, including unusual settings such as complex networks and quasicrystals, the onset of emergence as small systems grow, and the emergence of structure and shape as limits in probabilistic models. The workshops will (necessarily) bring in researchers in combinatorics and probability as well as statistical physics and related areas. We aim to have experimental contributors for workshops 1 and 2 where we will highlight the comparison between computational and theoretical modeling and the real world. This will be combined with computational modules for the student participants.