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The profile-forming research cluster attempts to understand systems in which the units interact directly with each other and continuously react to each other and the environment. Nature is often a model for such processes in economics, psychology and technology.

Nature shows us many phenomena that can be successfully described, analyzed and modeled using the concept of self-organization: fish swim in structured schools, ants find the shortest paths to food sources, and fireflies blink in perfect synchrony. The units involved establish an organizational structure that does not require central coordination and can be very robust against negative environmental influences. Instead, the units interact directly with each other and continually respond to changes in their environment. Such phenomena, known as self-organizing systems, can also be found in economics, psychology and technical systems, to name just a few other areas.

Science is interested in how self-organizing systems work and how, for example, technical or economic systems can be designed and developed that are self-organizing and have similar positive properties, for example in terms of robustness or evolution, as natural self-organizing systems. The social sciences also address questions about the extent to which social processes can be described through self-organization and what consequences self-organization could have, for example with regard to crisis situations. Current events such as financial crises and disease epidemics are used as an opportunity to model and analyze alternative concepts using self-organization methods. Self-organization is also finding its way into technology. While recently self-driving cars and self-healing robot swarms were science fiction, in just a few years they will be part of our everyday lives.

The "Self-Organizing Systems" cluster at the University of Klagenfurt focuses on the four subject areas "Theory of Self-Organization", "Distributed Processes in Dynamic Networks", "Self-Organization in Nature" and "Self-Organization in Technology". Around 20 scientists from different departments are working together with researchers from Lakeside Labs GmbH and Living Systems Research. Various articles in renowned journals and almost 30 third-party funded projects can be assigned to the cluster.

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