Magnets, microchips, memories and markets: statistical physics of complex systems
David Sherrington, Theoretical Physics, Oxford University

Disorder and frustration in the interactions between even quite simple microscopic entities can lead to complex macroscopic co-operative behaviour, whose understanding has required the development of novel concepts and techniques and continues to pose challenges. In this talk an overview will be given of the origin and character of such complexity and its conceptual understanding. It will be shown how resultant concepts can be fruitfully and symbiotically transferred between systems of physically quite different appearance. Illustrations will include frustrated magnets, (spin glasses), hard optimization problems (microchip design), associative memories (as in the brain or artificial neural networks) and simple markets (inspired by economics).