#TIOE (The Instability Of Equilibria, February 20, 2016):

How does rate of change change? Is equilibrium balance, & what happens when there is no balance? Is equilibrium attained when fast processes have done their job, and the slow processes have not started? Do all systems tend towards equilibrium? How are biological, physical, and economic systems different in this context? What would happen inside a closed box of Hydrogen atoms in (say) a billion years? Is equilibrium scale and time dependent? Is stability desirable? Is daily temperature stable on an average? Is graphite more stable than diamond? Is it possible to have stability far from equilibrium, & can equilibrium be unstable? Can prices be chaotic, & how does market achieve equilibrium? Can stability be thought of as, among others, constancy, persistence and resilience? Can ‘only’ one sub-market (or species) be out of equilibrium in a market (or an ecosystem)? What is the role of credit in creating (dis)equilibrium? Do predator-prey population sizes fluctuate naturally? Are buildings in local stable equilibrium? Will the world notice if all the human beings were to die? Is the ‘balance of nature’ strong or fragile or neither? Are there only local equilibria and ‘no’ singular global equilibrium? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from biology & ecology (Dr. Sutirth Dey, IISER, Pune), physics (Prof. Deepak Dhar, TIFR, Mumbai), & economics (Prof. Anjan Mukherji, JNU, New Delhi).

Listen in….

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TIOE show.

Dr. Sutirth Dey (ecology, evolution) is Associate Professor at the Biology Department in Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune. He also leads the Population Biology Lab at IISER. He completed his Ph.D. in population dynamics from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore. He works in the field of ecology and evolution and is interested in, inter alia, questions like how fluctuating environments affect microbial evolution, how to stabilize the dynamics of unstable populations, what are the implications of evolution of dispersal in biological populations and how do properties like survivorship and fecundity (i.e. number of babies produced) of individual organisms integrate to lead to the dynamics at the population level. He is active in a voluntary organization called the Exciting Science Group. The aim of this organization is to bring the excitement of science to school students, particularly those belonging to the economically disadvantaged sections of the society. He is also the founder of Mimamsa, probably the toughest undergraduate science quiz in India. Dr. Dey is also on the editorial board of ‘Journal of Theoretical Biology’. When not tied up with the before mentioned activities, he tends to loaf around on the mental landscape, and is interested in several things ranging from pedagogy to simple adda, with varied degrees of seriousness.

Prof. Deepak Dhar (statistical physics) is currently a Distinguished Professor at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai. He obtained his B.Sc. from the University of Allahabad (1970), and then went on to complete his M.Sc. in Physics from IIT Kanpur (1972). For his Ph.D. he went to California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, where he completed his Ph.D. under supervision of Prof. Jon Mathews. During his graduate student years at Caltech, he also had the fortunate experience of being a teaching assistant for a graduate course on advanced quantum mechanics taught by Prof. Richard Feynman. After finishing his Ph.D., he returned to India, and joined TIFR as a post-doc (1978), and has been there since then. Prof. Dhar has worked in the general area of statistical physics, and tries to use statistical physics techniques in interdisciplinary applications such as, biology, economics, and modeling social networks. His most important work is dealing with models of sandpiles, glasses and slow relaxation in glassy systems. Prof. Dhar is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Indian National Science Academy, and of the National Academy of Sciences. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize in Physics (1991), the S. N. Bose medal of the Indian National Science Academy (2001), and the T.W.A.S. Award in Physics (2003).

Prof. Anjan Mukherji (economics) is currently the Professor Emeritus, Centre for Economic Studies & Planning, School of Social Sciences, JNU, New Delhi. He is also currently the Country Director of the International Growth Center’s India-Bihar programme and is the honorary visiting professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), New Delhi. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Rochester in New York in 1973 & then taught at the JNU for 37 years till 2010, from where he retired as the RBI Professor of Economic Theory. He has previously held positions at the London School of Economics, Cornell University and at the Universities of Tsukuba and Osaka in Japan. Subsequent to his retirement from JNU, he was awarded the ICSSR Jawaharlal Nehru National Fellowship during 2011-13. He has also been awarded the VKRV Rao Award in Economics by ICSSR (1988). His research includes studies on micro-foundations of macroeconomics, complex growth processes, development and governance, and instabilities of equilibrium & their remedies. His first book, ‘Walrasian and Non‐ Walrasian Equilibria: An Introduction to General Equilibrium Analysis’, was published from Clarendon Press in 1990 and his more recent book written jointly with S. Guha, ‘Mathematical Methods and Economic Theory’ was published in 2011 from OUP, Delhi.

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TIOE mentions: Leon Walras, Kenneth Arrow, Gérard Debreu, Lionel W. McKenzie, Charles Elton, Edmond Malinvaud, & Charles Plott, among others.