The Jacob Marschak Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Mathematics in the Behavioral Sciences at UCLA

Young Research Library Conference Room 23167 | April 16, 2015 at 3-4:30 pm


Life’s Information Hierarchy

Speaker: Jessica Flack, Co-Director, Center for Complexity & Collective Computation (C4), Wisconsin Institute for Discovery & External Professor, Santa Fe Institute
Host: Daniel Blumstein, Professor and Chair, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCLA

Schopenhauer in his book, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, wrote that ". . .in mere Time, all things follow one another, and in mere Space all things are side by side; it is accordingly only by the combination of Time and Space that the representation of coexistence arises.” In this talk Flack will take this idea further and propose that the explanation for collectives, and, more generally, the complex, multi-scale structure of biological and social systems, lies in their manipulation of space and time to create local order and reduce uncertainty about the future.

Jessica Flack received her BA with honors from Cornell University in 1996, studying anthropology, evolutionary theory, and biology. She received her PhD from Emory University in 2004, studying animal behavior, cognitive science, and evolutionary theory. Flack was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship by the Santa Fe Institute and then joined its faculty as a professor in 2007. She moved to the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2011 to direct C4. Research in C4 focuses on collective behavior and sits at the interface of evolutionary theory and developmental dynamics, statistical mechanics, information theory, dynamical systems, theoretical computer science, and cognition. Flack’s research focuses on coarse-graining and collective computation in nature and their role in the evolution and development of new levels of biological and social organization.