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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture: Looking into the Past - Predicting the Future

18th October 2012, 17:30, The Old Library, Grey College, Professor Péter Érdi

Modern science connects past experience to the present and to the possible future(s) by adopting the philosophical concept of causality and mathematical tools of dynamical systems.

Dynamical system theory proved to be very efficient to build and test predictive models in the physical sciences. What can the mental strategy of the theory of dynamical systems offer for finding governing rules of complex social systems? This question should not be labeled as physicalism, but as an interdisciplinary approach. As Newton famously told related to his huge loss in the stock market; 'I can calculate the motions of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.' 

The theory of complex dynamic systems suggests that extreme events may be predicted by detecting their precursors, and that there are methodological similarities for analyzing and modeling different critical events occurring in physical, biological and social phenomena. There are initial promising results and many open problems. 

The following topics are discussed: 

1. Growth processes: Malthusian and super-Malthusian growth, limits to growth

2. The dynamic laws behind rises and falls, periodicity and irregular changes

3. The general laws of cooperation and competition: models of war, population dynamics, ecology, epidemics

4. Predicting and managing extreme events: earthquakes, epilepsy, stock market crashes

Further information about Professor Érdi

This lecture is free and open to all. 

Directions to Grey College

Map - University College is denoted as building No: 8

Contact for more information about this event.