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EMBL Forum Lectures

Melanie Mitchell

Melanie Mitchell

Friday, 2 July 2010, 16:00 Large Operon

Melanie Mitchell, Portland State University and Santa Fe Institute

Complexity: A Guided Tour


As science probes the nature of life, society, and technology ever more closely, what it finds there is complexity. The sophisticated group behavior of social insects, the unexpected intricacies of the genome, the dynamics of population growth, and the self-organized structure of the World Wide Web – these are just a few examples of complex systems that still elude scientific understanding. Comprehending such systems seems to require a wholly new approach, one that re-maps long-standing disciplinary boundaries. In this lecture, Dr. Mitchell will describe how the interdisciplinary field of complex systems science is discovering common principles underlying different natural and technological systems, and will discuss the implications of these common principles for science and society.


Short biography

Melanie Mitchell is Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University, and External Professor and Member of the Science Board at the Santa Fe Institute. She attended Brown University, where she majored in mathematics and did research in astronomy, and the University of Michigan, where she received a Ph.D. in computer science, working with her advisor Douglas Hofstadter on the Copycat project, a computer program that makes analogies. She is the author or editor of five books and over 70 scholarly papers in in the fields of artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and complex systems. Her most recent book, "Complexity: A Guided Tour", published in 2009 by Oxford University Press, was named by as one of the ten best science books of 2009.