The Santa Fe Institute (SFI) is an independent, nonprofit theoretical research institute located in Santa Fe (New Mexico, United States) and dedicated to the multidisciplinary study of the fundamental principles of complex adaptive systems, including physical, computational, biological, and social systems. The Institute houses a small number of resident faculty, who collaborate with many affiliated and visiting scholars. Although theoretical scientific research is the Institute's primary focus, it hosts a number of complex systems summer schools, internships, and other educational programs throughout the year. The Institute's annual funding is derived primarily from private donors, grant-making foundations, government science agencies, and companies affiliated with its Business Network. The Santa Fe Institute was founded in 1984 by scientists George Cowan, David Pines, Stirling Colgate, Murray Gell-Mann, Nick Metropolis, Herb Anderson, Peter A. Carruthers, and Richard Slansky.
The utility of mathematical models in evolutionary biology
Despite their important role as "proof-of-concept" tests in evolutionary research, mathematical models are commonly misunderstood in the biology research community.
A better way to find communities in networks
A key challenge network scientists face is figuring out how networks break down into communities—for example, different groups of friends in a high school social network or species in a food web.
Life's underlying architecture shapes creation of proteins
Understanding how nature maps sequences of amino acids into the physical structure of the proteins they form is an old problem in biology, and a solution could open new doors to understanding the earliest ...
How people respond to a catastrophe on social media
When an earthquake hits, it makes more than just seismic waves. Extreme events such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and terrorist attacks also produce waves of immediate online social interactions, in the form ...
A new approach to biodiversity resurrects old questions
A new look at one of ecology's unsolved puzzles—why biodiversity is higher in the tropics compared with colder regions—brought some unexpected revelations.
Geometry, programmed death might have enabled evolution of multicellularity
Geometry and programmed cell death may have helped along the evolution of multicellular life, according to new research led by SFI Omidyar Fellow Eric Libby.
Working group explores the 'frustration' of spin glasses
Spin glasses are frustrating. Although the ideas have been around for decades and form the foundation of countless complex systems models, they have nonetheless resisted researchers' efforts to understand exactly how they ...
Ecologists need 'efficient theory' to make sense of all the data
Ecologists are awash with data and have the tools to find patterns in it, but understanding those patterns requires the extra struggle to come up with simple, typically mathematical approaches that the 16 co-authors of a ...
Ambiguous words probably make communicating easier
It's a good thing some words have many meanings—ambiguous words actually make communication easier and may be an inevitable consequence of a language's evolution, according to a new SFI working paper by External Professor ...
The deep roots of economic inequality
A special issue of Science explores the origins of human inequality, drawing on research by SFI Professor Sam Bowles and collaborators.
Indigenous societies' 'first contact' typically brings collapse, but rebounds are possible
It was disastrous when Europeans first arrived in what would become Brazil—95 percent of its population, the majority of its tribes, and essentially all of its urban and agricultural infrastructure vanished. The experiences ...
Ancient food webs developed modern structure soon after mass extinction
Researchers from the Santa Fe Institute and the Smithsonian Institution have pieced together a highly detailed picture of feeding relationships among 700 mammal, bird, reptile, fish, insect, and plant species ...
Identifying how the chemical subsystems of metabolism have changed
To better understand the emergence of life, former SFI Omidyar Fellow Rogier Braakman and External Professor Eric Smith are taking a careful look at Aquifex aeolicus.
Robust systems persist in response to mutations
At first glance, robustness and evolvability—two keys to the continued existence of life—look incompatible. Living things need robust genes; otherwise, any mutation could spell death. At the same time, a species needs ...
Can scientists know that they do not know?
Imagine you knew everything about the current universe – the state of every single particle – and all the laws governing the universe's evolution. Endowed with such knowledge, you could then predict the future, right? ...