I take on BSc and MSc research students in 2021/22. Here are two possible research projects. If you are interested, do get in touch. Project discussions can be held in German, English, or Swedish. All literature will be in English.
Predicting political transitions
Predicting social systems is hard, not least because quantitative data are rare. Finding indicators of imminent transitions in the nature of national political systems is of great interest. If the ability to predict was coupled with an understanding of the underlying mechanisms it would be a powerful tool supporting safety and wellbeing of citizens. Recently, high-quality quantitative data have become available. A mathematical approach using tools from statistics and fluid dynamics can reveal underlying predictable dynamics of nations in a high-dimensional parameter space. The project will focus on a simple predictive model, testing a few initial hypotheses on the (un)predictability of certain dynamics. No prior knowlegde beyond BSc math and physics is required. The project will be computational.
Critical transitions as information edges
The physics of phase transitions provides a powerful tool set for studying sudden transitions outside physics, such as in climate dynamics or finance. Two metrics have been proposed for quantifying dynamic changes in particle systems, both are based on information theory. They have successfully described the transition toward vitrification in liquids, for example. It is unclear how these two metrics compare, and they have not been tested yet on non-physical systems. The project will study the two metrics mathematically, understanding their difference and the relation to standard auto-correlation functions used in the theory of phase transitions. Depending on the student's interests, data will be chosen on which to test the two metrics and their ability to detect critical transitions. No prior knowledge beyond BSc math and physics is required. The project will be partly computational.