Novel complex networks – STSM report of Peter Richmond @ Jerusalem

Novel complex networks – STSM report of Peter Richmond @ Jerusalem

Emergence of complex features in macroscopic systems

The emergence of complex behavior from simple interaction is one of the most important scientific puzzles of the 20th and 21st centuries. Sorin Solomon has had an important contribution in this domain by adapting models from statistical physics to a wide variety of problems in life sciences, economics, human behavior, marketing and many other fields. For his 60th birthday, a workshop to which many colleagues, former students and co-workers were invited to discuss the concept of emergence and the many applications of ideas from physics in these different fields.

The meeting took place in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem over the period February 17th to 18th. The purpose of this short term mission was not only, as a colleague of Prof Solomon’s, to attend and celebrate with him but also to discuss with the group my recent work concerned with cheating in multiple choice examinations.

In addition I had the opportunity to meet over the period February 12th and 13th with Prof Itamar Procaccia of the Weitzmann Institute and member of the COST MPNS domain committee to discuss issues linked to science and religion.

The workshop itself was a wonderful testimony to and celebration of the wide interests and vast influence Sorin has had on the subject not only within his University but also across Israel and the wider world. A tremendous range of topics spanning numerous disciplines from physics, to biology, management and medicine where methods of complexity have been applied by Sorin and his co-workers are covered in the abstracts included below. My contribution concerned with using overlaps in examination scores generated valuable feedback pointing to other probabilities that might be computed to gain further insight into collusion and cheating. I intend to prepare a manuscript for publication once I have completed some of these additional calculations. This will be put forward for publication in the conference proceedings that were proposed at the end of the meeting. The meeting also included a very enjoyable dinner at a restaurant in the nearby botanical gardens which offered a chance for everyone present to offer their own personal reflection on their experience of working with Sorin.

I would like to thank the organisers of the meeting for offering me the chance to attend this workshop and renew links with Sorin and many other Israeli colleagues. I am also very grateful to COST action TD1012 KNOWeSCAPE for providing me with valuable financial support and making the visit possible. On a lighter note, it provided also an opportunity to enjoy at least one day in the sunshine after enduring a month of unusually heavy rain at home during January!

Peter Richmond
22nd February 2014