Visiting Speaker
Erik Hoel
Postdoctoral Researcher at the NeuroTechnology Lab of Columbia University
Quantifying emergence and reduction
Oct 5, 2017
Download TALK slides
2:30 pm
177 Huntington Ave
11th floor
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 Many physical systems can be coherently described in terms of their function and causal structure at multiple different levels. How we can reconcile these seemingly disparate levels of description? This is especially problematic because the lower scales at first appear more fundamental in three ways: in terms of their causal work, in terms of the amount of information they contain, and their theoretical superiority in terms of model choice. However, recent research bringing information theory and causal analysis to bear on modeling systems at different scales significantly reframes the issue, revealing that higher scales can be "causal codes" that allow for the generation of additional information through error correction. This result has significant implications for causal model choice in science and engineering. The findings indicate how emergence and reduction can be identified, measured, and used to design optimally informative experiments.

about the speaker
Erik is a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University in the NeuroTechnology Lab working under Rafael Yuste. He is also a visiting scholar at The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. As a co-founder of the non-profit organization YHouse, based in NYC, Erik helps the organization promote scientific research into consciousness, bridge gaps between science and the humanities, and host public events. Before his work at Columbia, Erik was a graduate student at Giulio Tononi's Sleep and Consciousness Lab working on Integrated Information Theory. Erik’s research on consciousness has been funded by DARPA, as well as the John Templeton Foundation. He is also a fiction writer and essayist, and his work can be found at

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