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Complexity Digest's Blog

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Electrical experiments with plants that count and communicate

October 17, 2017 Comments (0)

Neuroscientist Greg Gage takes sophisticated equipment used to study the brain out of graduate-level labs and brings them to middle- and high-school classrooms (and, sometimes, to the TED stage.) Prepare to be amazed as he hooks up the Mimosa pudica, a plant whose leaves close when touched, and the Venus flytrap to an EKG to show us how plants use electrical signals to convey information, prompt movement and even count. Source: www.ted.com

Preliminary Steps Toward a Universal Economic Dynamics for Monetary and Fiscal Policy

October 17, 2017 Comments (0)

We consider the relationship between economic activity and intervention, including monetary and fiscal policy, using a universal monetary and response dynamics framework. Central bank policies are designed for economic growth without excess inflation. However, unemployment, investment, consumption, and inflation are interlinked. Understanding dynamics is crucial to assessing the effects of policy, especially in the aftermath of the recent financial crisis. Here we lay out a program of research...

Neutron-Star Collision Shakes Space-Time and Lights Up the Sky

October 16, 2017 Comments (0)

In the days after Aug. 17, astronomers made successful observations of the colliding neutron stars with optical, radio, X-ray, gamma-ray, infrared and ultraviolet telescopes. The enormous collaborative effort, detailed today in dozens of papers appearing simultaneously in Physical Review Letters, Nature, Science, Astrophysical Journal Letters and other journals, has not only allowed astrophysicists to piece together a coherent account of the event, but also to answer longstanding questions in...

Evolution and Devolution of Social Complexity: Why Do We Care?

October 15, 2017 Comments (0)

Over the past 10,000 years human societies evolved from “simple” – small egalitarian groups, integrated by face-to-face interactions – to “complex” – huge anonymous societies of millions, characterized by great differentials in wealth and power, extensive division of labor, elaborate governance structures, and sophisticated information systems. What were the evolutionary processes that brought about such an enormous increase in social scale and...

Mobility can promote the evolution of cooperation via emergent self-assortment dynamics

October 14, 2017 Comments (0)

Cooperation among animals is ubiquitous. In a cooperative interaction, the cooperator confers a benefit to its partner at a personal cost. How does natural selection favour such a costly behaviour? Classical theories argue that cooperative interactions among genetic relatives, reciprocal cooperators, or among individuals within groups in viscous population structures are necessary to maintain cooperation. However, many organisms are mobile, and live in dynamic (fission-fusion) groups that...

Resilience management during large-scale epidemic outbreaks

October 13, 2017 Comments (0)

Assessing and managing the impact of large-scale epidemics considering only the individual risk and severity of the disease is exceedingly difficult and could be extremely expensive. Economic consequences, infrastructure and service disruption, as well as the recovery speed, are just a few of the many dimensions along which to quantify the effect of an epidemic on society’s fabric. Here, we extend the concept of resilience to characterize epidemics in structured populations, by defining...

The Strength of Absent Ties: Social Integration via Online Dating

October 11, 2017 Comments (0)

We used to marry people to which we were somehow connected to: friends of friends, schoolmates, neighbours. Since we were more connected to people similar to us, we were likely to marry someone from our own race. However, online dating has changed this pattern: people who meet online tend to be complete strangers. Given that one-third of modern marriages start online, we investigate theoretically, using random graphs and matching theory, the effects of those previously absent ties in the...

Effects of motion in structured populations

October 10, 2017 Comments (0)

In evolutionary processes, population structure has a substantial effect on natural selection. Here, we analyse how motion of individuals affects constant selection in structured populations. Motion is relevant because it leads to changes in the distribution of types as mutations march towards fixation or extinction. We describe motion as the swapping of individuals on graphs, and more generally as the shuffling of individuals between reproductive updates. Beginning with a one-dimensional...

Temporal Network Epidemiology

October 10, 2017 Comments (0)

This book covers recent developments in epidemic process models and related data on temporally varying networks. It is widely recognized that contact networks are indispensable for describing, understanding, and intervening to stop the spread of infectious diseases in human and animal populations; “network epidemiology” is an umbrella term to describe this research field. More recently, contact networks have been recognized as being highly dynamic. This observation, also supported...

The Prize in Economic Sciences 2017

October 9, 2017 Comments (0)

Richard H. Thaler has incorporated psychologically realistic assumptions into analyses of economic decision-making. By exploring the consequences of limited rationality, social preferences, and lack of self-control, he has shown how these human traits systematically affect individual decisions as well as market outcomes. Limited rationality: Thaler developed the theory of mental accounting, explaining how people simplify financial decision-making by creating separate accounts in their minds,...