Research questions

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What research questions are we presently considering?

Any questions that seem related to the project as described. Community members should feel free to add questions by subject directly below, and send any general questions proposals to Clement or John. If you have found or are pursuing answers to any of the questions on this page, please create a Research on xyz topic page (log in and click "edit" in the upper right of this page to see the simple wiki code for creating new pages), placed at the end of any question, that summarizes what you have found in the literature or in your own work, and any open subquestions. Please be clear and concise and remember wiki contributions may be mercilessly edited by the community!

General questions

  • Can we model our universe as an evolutionary developmental system?
  • Local uniqueness and systemic predictability appear in many classes of inanimate Earth systems, from snowflakes to continental plates. To what extent may such uniquenesses be modeled as evolutionary, and similarities as developmental?
  • In nonlinear science, what theoretical and mathematical tools and models may be proposed for these ideas?
  • In hierarchy theory, to what degree may evolutionary and developmental lessons learned at one complex system level illuminate another?
  • How does intelligence, or more specifically the phenomenon of world- and self-modeling, influence the dynamics of evolution and development in biological systems?
  • To what degree can evolutionary and developmental models of information processing in biology be generalized to geophysical and universal environments?
  • To what extent is the universe life and intelligence friendly? To what degree can such friendliness/fine-tuning be characterized in developmental terms?
  • What are the broad human implications of an evo devo universe? What values does it imply?
  • What are the methodological and epistemological status of these approaches?

Questions by subject

Normal and power law distributions

  • Why are well behaved normal-like distributions, and Zipf/Pareto/Mandelbrot power law distributions so ubiquitous in nature? What does theoretical biology say about the role of normal and power law distributions in evolutionary and developmental processes in general, and when does one distribution family "become" the other? Specifically, can we make the case that a top down (developmental) process commonly creates a normal distribution and a bottom up (evolutionary) process commonly creates a power law distribution?
Research on normal and power law distributions

Scale invariance and self similarity

  • What processes in evolution, development, and computation appear self similar and which appear scale invariant?
Research on scale invariance and self similarity

Self-reference and recursion

  • What role do self-reference, iteration, and recursion play in biological evolution and development? Is all hierarchy formation a result of such processes, and does this contribute to or form the basis of self-similarity in complex adaptive systems? Are such systems equally top down and bottom up in their dynamics, or do they skew one way or another?
Research on self-reference and recursion