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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Seminar - Relevance and Emergence

17th November 2014, 13:00 to 14:00, IAS Seminar Room, Palace Green, Professor William Downes (Honorary: UEA and York Uni (Toronto))

The aim of this seminar is to explore the possibilities of the concept of ‘relevance’ – that of input to an information processing system – with respect to the emergence of innovations within the system. The original notion is derived from cognitive pragmatics within linguistics. First, I will sketch the original notion from linguistics, using as an example the emergence and dissemination of new concepts within culture viewed as a complex system of representations. Then, secondly, I will propose a new mathematical concept of relevance, generalized to apply to all information processing systems, natural or artificial. This new concept is both independent of meaning and purely quantitative, at least in principle. I ask whether this revised concept can serve as a general principle of selection.

Fellows' seminars take place on Monday lunchtimes in the seminar room at Cosin's Hall.

Places are limited and so any academic colleagues interested in attending a seminar should contact the Institute in advance to reserve a place.

The aim of these seminars is to develop new thinking on the big issues that are of current concern/interest for the Fellows . Each Fellow is asked to present a core idea that informs their current work, or a problem that they are tackling, that could benefit from cross-disciplinary thinking. These seminars are informal and designed to encourage discussion.

Contact for more information about this event.