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Information Thermodynamics at the Edge of Chaos


Funding is available for applicants interested in carrying out fundamental and applied research in the field of complex systems. The research will involve theoretical work as well as computer simulations. It will aim to discover fundamental connections between information-theoretic and statistical-mechanical approaches to self-organisation, while investigating nonlinear critical phenomena, with particular focus on information dynamics during phase transitions.    The PhD will be supervised by Prof. Mikhail Prokopenko. The applicant will join the Complex Systems Research Group (CSRG) at The School of Civil Engineering – The University of Sydney. The CSRG group comprises ten academics, and has wide collaborations across the University, Australia, and internationally. It is a vibrant, world-leading group in the fields of guided self-organisation and critical phenomena forecasting.


Professor Mikhail Prokopenko .

Research location

Research Cluster on Complex Systems

Program type



In studying the fundamental properties of complex dynamic systems, one is faced with the challenges of quantifying the dynamics during order-chaos phase transitions. These challenges become more formidable in situations when the system exhibits self-organisation — a broad phenomenon, occurring in a range of physical, biological, technological and social systems. During self-organisation, the system often approaches critical regimes (the edge of chaos) and undergoes phase changes which can be characterised through specific information dynamics (for example, changes in transfer entropy, Fisher information, excess entropy, etc.).   A search for fundamental connections between self-organisation and maximisation of suitably defined information-theoretic measures, pursued within the field of information thermodynamics, will form the research topic of the PhD study.

Additional information

Applicants need to satisfy the eligibility criteria for PhD enrolment at The University of Sydney.  Backgrounds in applied mathematics, physics, computer science, and specifically in information theory and statistical mechanics will be beneficial.   The successful applicant will demonstrate a strong commitment to academic research in the proposed field. He/she will have excellent written and oral communication skills, as well as demonstrated ability to program in MATLAB, Java, or C++, and will be willing to create and develop original approaches to tackle open questions.   The School of Civil Engineering offers a  full-time scholarship for exceptional local or international students from world leading research institutions wishing to undertake a research doctorate degree in the School. These Scholarship is awarded to local or international students with a degree equivalent to an Australian Bachelor’s Degree with 1st Class Honours in Engineering or Science which includes an independent research project and who ranked in the top 10% of the cohort.   Funding is valued at the APA rate ($25,392 in 2014 per annum, tax exempt), up to three years, subject to satisfactory progress.    For an international student, funding is valued at the APA rate ($25,392 in 2014 per annum), which is paid as a living allowance. The scholarship also includes covering the fees payable by international students.   A top-up of $5,000 per annum may be available based on merit. There is a potential for the applicants to earn an extra $5,000 per annum through assistance in undergraduate teaching.   Applications should be sent by email to Prof. Mikhail Prokopenko:   They should include a Resume and a Cover Letter. In their Cover Letter, applicants are invited to include a short (about 250 words) research statement explaining how they understand the issues related to the topic of research.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 1943

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