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Emergent Phenomena

Emergence is usually associated with the appearance of novel and unexpected behaviour at larger length scales than those characterizing the “microscopic/fundamental” systems under scrutiny.

Standard examples of emergent phenomena include the collective behaviour of a large number of building blocks (particles like electrons, molecules, people, etc.) or special limiting behaviour such as critical points (traffic jams, epidemics, economic collapse, phase transitions etc.).  Emergence is ubiquitous through science and acts as a mediator between different scientific disciplines, linking for instance physics and chemistry, chemistry and biology or mathematics and social behaviour. The science of emergence consists of understanding such connections and is usually demarcated by universal principles that hold for large classes of collective behaviour such as symmetry-breaking patterns, self-organisation, (quantum) phase transitions and (quantum) critical behaviour. Similar phenomena also appear in applications to new quantum & programmable materials, big data, cognition, and urban issues. Emergence leads to fundamental, mathematical and philosophical questions, such as how to bridge from one scale to the next.


Dutch Institute for Emergent Phenomena (DIEP)

The Dutch Institute for Emergent Phenomena (DIEP) is an interdisciplinary research centre across fundamental sciences with the purpose of furthering the understanding of emergent phenomena.

The DIEP cluster at the University of Amsterdam is a joint effort of the Institute of Physics (IoP), the Korteweg-de Vries Institute for Mathematics (KdVI), the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC), the Informatics Institute (IvI), the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) and the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS). Its goal is to create an interdisciplinary research programme among these different institutes that covers subjects such information theory, topological phases of matter, multiscale modelling, networks, complex systems, emergence of causality, non-equilibrium systems, collective intelligence, among many others.

Research Lead

Dr. J. (Jácome) Armas


Research Group Members

Dr. A. (Alexandru) Baltag

Faculty of Science


Prof. dr. J. (Jan) de Boer

Faculty of Science


Prof. dr. P.G. (Peter) Bolhuis

Faculty of Science

Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences

Prof. dr. D.T. (Daan) Crommelin

Faculty of Science


Prof. dr. M.S. (Mark) Golden

Faculty of Science


Dr. R. (Rick) Quax

Faculty of Science

Informatics Institute

Prof. dr. P.M.A. (Peter) Sloot

Faculty of Science

Informatics Institute