Fundamental and Applied Research

Emmy Network Foundation (under the aegis of Fondation de Luxembourg) works together with the Universities of Oxford (UK) and Turku (Finland) to support and direct a growing global network of exceptional researcher fellows from a diverse set of disciplines ranging from mathematics and physics to biology and economics. Emmy Network researchers work to improve our understanding of social, cognitive and conceptual systems.

From Insights to Impact

By combining, and making publicly available, Emmy Network Fellows’ novel research insights in artificial intelligence and social network dynamics has allowed organizations to develop and extend impact. To date the Fellows have helped President Martti Ahtisaari’s Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) to improve its understanding of conflicts it is mediating and have worked with the City of Turku, Finland, to improve its traffic planning and data management.

To foster exchange of ideas and spread of insights as well as to encourage serendipitous encounters strengthening and growing the network, several gatherings are organized throughout the year bringing together Emmy Network Fellows as well as members of the broader community.

The first gathering, focused on conceptual systems, was held in May 2019 bringing together a distinguished, global group of mathematicians and scientist and has already resulted in a number of new active collaborations on improving our understanding of foundations of mathematics and the natural sciences.

What is Network Science?

At some point, somewhere, self-replicating biological life was born. Biological systems continued to evolve, giving rise to complex organs such as the human brain. Overtime, biological agents evolved into societies, bringing about artificial and collective forms of cognition. Many important open questions remain. How did self-replicating biological life begin and evolve? How did biological systems give rise to organs? How did biologically-based cognition emerge, and what is it, really? In turn, how did collective and artificial forms of cognition arise and how did they impact the structure and function of human societies?

As resources become scarce and the vast majority of the global population moves to cities, societies need to become more collaborative. How do we develop better innovations, that more effectively utilize our limited resources? How do we learn to avoid and resolve conflicts? How do we create efficient, universally accessible educational solutions? Ultimately, we need to become better at answering questions like the ones we are asking here in order to live harmonious, productive, and happy lives.

Understanding the evolution, function, and interdependencies of biological, cognitive, and social systems is fundamental to understanding who we are and how to address the challenges we face.

Formulating these questions precisely and in a manner amenable to quantitative study is an important step in understanding our place in the universe, who we are, and how to face the challenges of today and tomorrow. Such an endeavour requires mathematical and computational frameworks general enough to encompass this broad range of fields, yet detailed enough to be able to capture and describe the subtle features of specific problems.

Network science provides one such approach, where large systems and their behaviors are studied as networks of interacting parts, components, or subsystems. Applied work consists of trying to understand how specific systems can be described in terms amenable to mathematical and computational treatment without abandoning salient features of their behavior. Fundamental research work focuses on developing novel descriptive frameworks and studying their various structural properties. At its most ambitious, network science attempts to provide a platform for investigating the foundations of theories of nature and of mathematics. Fundamentally, network research is interdisciplinary and collaborative.