Predicting Transitions in Complex Systems

Workshop Report

Complex dynamical systems, ranging from the heart and the brain to ecosystems, financial markets and the climate, can show sudden transitions to contrasting and, at times, even disastrous dynamical regimes. Both reliable detection and prediction of transitions are of utmost importance in many scientific fields. If catastrophic transitions occur in an unexpected way, they often do not allow for developing adaptation and/or mitigation strategies. It is thus crucial to identify early-warning signals of such transitions.

The main focus of the workshop was therefore to bring together scientists from various disciplines of natural sciences who investigate transitions in complex systems and their predictability either from the methodological point of view or through applications. The workshop aimed to bridge the different disciplines by stimulating the discussion about new advances in data-driven approaches for identifying, characterizing and predicting regime transitions.

The 5-day interdisciplinary workshop was attended by 71 experienced senior researchers, aspiring younger scientists, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students from 21 countries. It is noteworthy that we had more than twice as many applications than places available. The workshop gave a comprehensive overview in the area of the workshop topics through 27 invited and 22 contributed talks as well as 31 posters presented in two lively and open-ended evening sessions, all of which were very well received. The participants appreciated in particular the breadth of the program. Excellent presentations of the different approaches developed in the context of the wide-spread areas of applications generated an extraordinary amount of interactions between participants from different fields and backgrounds, which initialized new international and interdisciplinary collaborations.