Science Café > Understanding Complexity

In recent decades, the foundations have been laid for a cross-disciplinary approach to complexity, that of 'complex systems'; everything, everywhere, all at once. Peter Sloot and Igor Nikolic will introduce us to this fascinating and relevant subject

Everything, everywhere, all at once. The world is a large, dynamic jumble of entities, either in chaos or self- organizing into the most wonderful, increasingly complex systems, such as molecules, cells, organisms and ecosystems. Through all interactions the whole evolves and so the future unfolds. What future is that exactly? It seems like a crystal ball question. Scientists traditionally often confine themselves to studying separate subsystems, from the perspective of a specific field. However, complexity doesn't allow describing all properties from a single perspective and therefore one is in the dark when trying to understand and address emergent real-life phenomena such as psychological diseases, pandemics and climate change. In recent decades, an essential shift has taken place and the foundations have been laid for a new, cross-disciplinary approach to complexity, that of 'complex adaptive systems'. This focuses, in abstraction, on universalities such as information, networks and interactions.

On Monday evening, October 17, the Science Café will host two leading scientists in this field, Peter Sloot (UvA) and Igor Nikolic (TUD), who will bring us up to speed, awe us and discuss, in Dutch, these incredibly fascinating and relevant developments. Driven by big questions, Sloot and his group are working on an information-theoretical basis for complexity science. Here, nature is viewed as a complex system that 'processes information, computing its own future'. This evening, in an infectious manner, he will clarify this idea and the search for the 'computational algorithm', as well as present the deep insights and applications that have arisen from this. The ultimate litmus test of understanding is grip. In order to give the world an effective, informed push in the sustainable direction, Nikolic tries to capture the socio-technological complexity of our society, in all its facets, in agent-based models so to simulate realistic future scenarios. Through his stunning simulations, he will demonstrate the power of complex systems thinking. All in all, complexity will perhaps be most tangible this evening in the modern jazz and virtuoso improvisations of the German class act Lanzensticker.

Location: The Shamrock, Smetiusstraat 17 Nijmegen

Speaker: Peter Sloot (UvA) andIgor Nikolic (TUD)

Contact information

Organizational unit
Radboud University