IAS Annual Report 2014-15 - page 16

As well as developing exciting and ground-breaking new
strands of research, the IAS also seeks to build upon existing
research strengths and former IAS themes. A key aim of the
Tipping Points in Modelling
led by Dr
Camila Caiado
(Mathematical Sciences) was to maintain continuity and
expand the
interest group which was established
during the IAS Modelling theme of 2007/08. This series
focused on questions raised from the
theme and
was a natural development from the earlier series in the
sense that the earlier series was concerned with general
behaviours of such models, and their links with reality, and
this series of seminars and workshops particularly focused
on the types of policy relevant questions that occur when
models show dramatic potential discontinuities which may
completely transform their behaviour.
How stable and close to reality are model outputs when near
a tipping point? And how does the level of complexity of a
model affect the predictability of important events? How can
we differentiate a tipping point induced by the modelling
process and a real tipping point? These were some of the
questions navigated and negotiated by Dr Camila Caiado
with colleagues across several departments including
Biosciences, Engineering, Physics, Anthropology, Business,
and Geography. They considered and discussed how
mathematical and computational models, which are now
used widely across both the physical and social sciences,
are used to investigate the dynamics of a complex system
for example climate, financial markets, energy systems
or societal behaviour. Due to the complex nature of these
systems it is often necessary to investigate and consider the
fragility of the models and explore the capability to adapt
to tipping points such as drastic climate change, financial
crisis, blackouts or social epidemics.
The series led to a number of outcomes including several
published journal articles, the reinforcement of collaborative
links with external networks and the enabling of postgraduate
engagement with not only Durham academics but also early
career researchers and distinguished scholars from other
institutions as well as policy makers and members of the public.
Emergency, Tipping Points and Fragility
Annual IAS London Event: On The Tipping
Point - 04 June 2015
The idea of tipping points, when a system reaches a point of
no return, is both intriguing and alarming. The IASís annual
London event hosted a panel of leading thinkers including
Sir Tim Smit KBE, Tony Juniper, Professor Alex Bentley
and Professor Neil Ferguson to explore the dynamics of
tipping points and their effects. They discussed a variety of
questions including: How can we recognise tipping points
and their causes? Can we really predict tipping points?
Should we simply learn to live with uncertainty? Can Ė and
should - we initiate tipping points to achieve social and
environmental changes? Do apparent similarities in tipping
points in such areas as climate change, disease epidemics,
social change and economics signify deeper underlying
principles, holding out the promise of a unifying science of
tipping points? How can different disciplines collaborate to
understand tipping points and their effects?
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