The challenge of sustainability and the promise of mathematics
Speaker: Simon Levinhttp://mathsofplanetearth.org.au/events/mpe-launch-and-simons-mpe-public-lecture/
5:45PM, Melbourne, Australia
Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute
Sponsored by: Simons Foundation
Professor Simon Levin, Princeton University, visits Australia to deliver the first in the international series of MPE2013 Simons Public Lectures.
The continual increase in the human population, magnified by increasing percapita demands on Earth’s limited resources, raises the urgent mandate of
understanding the degree to which these patterns are sustainable. The scientific challenges posed by this simply stated goal are enormous; mathematics provides a common language and a way to cross disciplines and cross scales.
What measures of human welfare should be at the core of definitions of
sustainability, and how do we discount the future and deal with problems of
intragenerational and inter-generational equity? How do environmental and
socioeconomic systems become organized as complex adaptive systems, and what are the implications for dealing with public goods at scales from the local to the global? How does the increasing interconnectedness of natural and
human systems affect us, and what are the implications for management? What is the role of social norms, and how do we achieve cooperation at the global level?
Mathematical tools help in understanding the collective dynamics of systems from bacterial biofilms to bird flocks and fish schools to ecosystems and the biosphere, and the emergent features that support life on the planet. They also provide ways to resolve the game-theoretic challenges of achieving cooperation among individuals and among nations in providing for our common future.
Professor Levin received his B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Maryland. At Cornell University 1965-1992 , he was Chair of the Section of Ecology and Systematics, and then Director of the Ecosystems Research Center, the Center for Environmental Research and the Program on Theoretical and Computational Biology, as well as Charles A. Alexander Professor of Biological Sciences (1985-1992). Since 1992, he has been at Princeton University, where he is currently George M. Moffett Professor of Biology and Director of the Center for BioComplexity. He retains an Adjunct Professorship at Cornell.
His research interests are in understanding how macroscopic patterns and processes are maintained at the level of ecosystems and the biosphere, in terms of ecological and evolutionary mechanisms that operate primarily at the level of organisms; in infectious diseases; and in the interface between basic and applied ecology.
The MPE2013 Simons Public Lecture Series is funded by: