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Research & Activities

Our research agenda is consistent with the idea of Dynamical Minimalism: Through the interplay of empirical testing, computer simulations and feedback from applications, we try to identify the simplest rules of interaction that can produce very complex phenomena in conflict.

 What is Dynamical Minimalism?

“My approach to theory construction has been inspired by many people with different orientations, personalities, and scientific agendas. Yet these influences have converged in important respects and have instilled in me a set of assumptions about human behavior and the means by which human behavior should be investigated. Perhaps the basic lesson is this: To appreciate what is unique about human behavior, we first need to identify what is common across all domains of scientific inquiry. Ironically, what is unique to humans can be understood in terms of general principles that apply in highly disparate levels of scientific inquiry and that cut across levels of scientific explanation. I call this approach dynamical minimalism. It is minimalist in that it attempts to identify the simplest mechanisms that can produce the phenomenon that we are trying to explain. It is dynamical in that it assumes that the behavior of systems evolves in time through repeated interaction of these fundamental features. (…) Computer simulations are the tools of choice in finding the macro consequences of different rules acting on the micro level. The principle of computational equivalence states that “all the processes both natural and produced by humans may be viewed as computations” (Wolfram, 2002). Computer simulations give us the chance to observe emergent properties in seconds or minutes, rather than having to wait for years or decades for the process to conclude in reality. As with all theories, dynamical minimalist theories need to be verified empirically. In fact, the success of a theory that follows the principles of dynamical minimalism is to maintain a balance among the development of a theory, computer simulations, and empirical verification.

Andrzej Nowak