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This Week at Physics

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Event Number 3293

  Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Chaos & Complex Systems Seminar
Criticality and information flow in an adaptive system
Time: 12:05 pm
Place: 4274 Chamberlin (refreshments will be served)
Speaker: Bryan Daniels, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery
Abstract: In physical systems, boundaries in parameter space that separate different large-scale behavior correspond to phase transitions, where small changes in microscopic parameters lead to drastic changes in macroscopic observables. We use fine-grained data about conflict in a macaque society to ask whether this social system is located near a phase transition. We find using two models (an equilibrium Ising model and a dynamic branching process model) that the system is near but below a transition, indicating that aggression dissipates quickly enough to avoid becoming typically widespread, but not so quickly that large fights are impossible. A relation between thermodynamics and information theory shows that being near the transition implies that it is easier for an observer of fight sizes to infer changes in individual proclivities to fight. More generally, this points to the possibility of quantifying a system's collective behavior by measuring the degree to which information can percolate among different spatial scales.<br>
Host: Clint Sprott
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