7th ELSI Symposium

Comparative Emergence


noun (ɪˈməːdʒ(ə)ns/)

1. the process of becoming visible after being concealed. synonyms: disclosure, becoming known, coming to light, exposure, unfolding, publication, publicizing, publishing, broadcasting.

2. the process of coming into existence or prominence. synonyms: appearance, arrival, coming; turning up, springing up, surfacing, cropping up, popping up; advent, inception, dawn, birth, origination, start; development, rise, blossoming, blooming; materializing, materialization, arising, issue, emanation.


Dates: Tuesday-Friday, 8-11 January, 2019 (See below for detailed schedule)

Location: Earth-Life Science Institute and Digital Hall, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Ookayama Campus, Meguro, Tokyo, Japan (See below for detailed maps)

Scientific Organizing Committee: Jim Cleaves, Shawn McGlynn, John Hernlund (Chair), Christine Houser, Yuko Ishihara, Elizabeth Tasker, Mary Voytek, Olaf Witkowski

Abstract of the Symposium: A hallmark of many natural systems, from galaxies, to solar systems, planets, chemical systems, and biology (both at the organismal and ecosystem/societal level) is the fact that due to their having many interacting and interdependent components, coupled with large degrees of freedom, they may access a multitude of dynamical states as they evolve. Collaborations between these processes may give rise to the emergence of new dynamical states with novel traits. In the unfolding history of the universe we see multiple transitions from abundant free energy towards sparsity across vast spatio-temporal scales, with self-propagating emergent processes arising out of the resulting competition for resources. The 7th ELSI Symposium will explore the parallels and differences of emergent system dynamics across many fields of study, ranging from astrophysics to sociology, before turning to the question of emergence itself, what it is, how to measure it, and how to use these concepts as a tool for trans-disciplinary cross-fertilization in the natural sciences.


Monday 7 January (Pre-Symposium Activities)

  • 10:00-17:00 Pre-registration, informal visits to ELSI etc. (Location: ELSI-1 and ELSI-2)
  • 10:00-14:00 SOC Final Coordination Meeting (Location: Mishima Hall, ELSI-1)
  • 15:00 ELSI Coffee in the Agora (Location: ELSI-1)
  • 15:30-17:00 ELSI Buildings and Labs Tour (Location: ELSI-1 and ELSI-2)

Tuesday 8 January (Symposium Day 1)

  • 10:00-10:05 Welcome, Opening of the Symposium (ELSI Director)
  • 10:05-10:30 Plan & Purpose of the Symposium (SOC Team)
  • 10:30-11:15 Opening Lecture: Takashi Ikegami (University of Tokyo)
  • 11:15-11:30 Q&A
  • 11:30-13:30 Lunch
  • 13:30-15:00 Session 1: Emergence of the Universe, Galaxies, Stars (Chair: Elizabeth Tasker)
  • 13:30-13:40 Session 1: Introduction by Session Chair Elizabeth Tasker (ISAS/JAXA)
  • 13:40-14:10 Session 1: Presentation by Katie Mack (North Carolina State University)
  • 14:10-14:20 Session 1: Dialogue
  • 14:20-14:50 Session 1: Presentation by Takayuki Saitoh (Earth-Life Science Institute)
  • 14:50-15:00 Session 1: Dialogue
  • 15:00-15:15 Relocate to ELSI-1
  • 15:15-16:30 Poster session with coffee at ELSI-1
  • 16:30-17:30 Breakout session 1: ELSI-1 and ELSI-2

Wednesday 9 January (Symposium Day 2)

  • 09:30-09:40 Warm-up
  • 09:40-10:00 Reports from breakout discussion groups
  • 10:00-11:30 Session 2: Emergence of Planetary Complexity (Chair: John Hernlund)
  • 10:00-10:10 Session 2: Introduction by Session Chair John Hernlund (Earth-Life Science Institute)
  • 10:10-10:40 Session 2: Presentation by Lindy Elkins-Tanton (Arizona State University)
  • 10:40-10:50 Session 2: Dialogue
  • 10:50-11:20 Session 2: Presentation by Yasuhito Sekine (Earth-Life Science Institute)
  • 11:20-11:30 Session 2: Dialogue
  • 11:30-13:30 Lunch
  • 13:30-15:00 Session 3: Emergence of Organic Chemical Complexity (Chair: Henderson Cleaves)
  • 13:30-13:40 Session 3: Introduction by Session Chair Jim Cleaves (Earth-Life Science Institute)
  • 13:40-14:10 Session 3: Presentation by Donna Blackmond (Scripps Research Institute)
  • 14:10-14:20 Session 3: Dialogue
  • 14:20-14:50 Session 3: Presentation by Mark Smith (University of Arizona)
  • 14:50-15:00 Session 3: Dialogue
  • 15:00-15:15 Relocate to ELSI-1
  • 15:15-16:30 Poster session with coffee at ELSI-1
  • 16:30-17:30 Breakout session 2: ELSI-1 and ELSI-2

Thursday 10 January (Symposium Day 3)

  • 09:30-09:40 Warm-Up
  • 09:40-10:00 Reports from breakout discussion groups
  • 10:00-11:30 Session 4: Emergence of Life (Chair: Shawn McGlynn)
  • 10:00-10:10 Session 4: Introduction by Session Chair Shawn McGlynn (Earth-Life Science Institute)
  • 10:10-10:40 Session 4: Presentation by Simonetta Gribaldo (Institut Pasteur)
  • 10:40-10:50 Session 4: Dialogue
  • 10:50-11:20 Session 4: Presentation by Nathaniel Virgo (Earth-Life Science Institute)
  • 11:20-11:30 Session 4: Dialogue
  • 11:30-13:30 Lunch
  • 13:30-15:00 Session 5: Emergence of Communication (Chair: Olaf Witkowski)
  • 13:30-13:40 Session 5: Introduction by Session Chair Olaf Witkowski (Earth-Life Science Institute)
  • 13:40-14:10 Session 5: Presentation by Joseph Lizier (University of Sydney)
  • 14:10-14:20 Session 5: Dialogue
  • 14:20-14:50 Session 5: Presentation by Naftali Tishby (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
  • 14:50-15:00 Session 5: Dialogue
  • 15:00-15:15 Relocate to ELSI-1
  • 15:15-16:30 Poster session with coffee at ELSI-1
  • 16:30-17:30 Breakout discussion groups at ELSI-1 and ELSI-2
  • 17:30-21:00 Banquet at ELSI-1 Agora

Friday 11 January (Symposium Day 4)

  • 09:50-10:00 Warm-Up
  • 10:00-11:30 Session 6: Characterizing Emergence (Chair: Christine Houser)
  • 10:00-10:10 Session 6: Introduction by Session Chair Christine Houser (Earth-Life Science Institute)
  • 10:10-10:40 Session 6: Presentation by John Rundle (University of California, Davis)
  • 10:40-10:50 Session 6: Dialogue
  • 10:50-11:20 Session 6: Presentation by Arsev Aydinoglu (Middle East Technical University)
  • 11:20-11:30 Session 6: Dialogue
  • 11:30-13:30 Lunch
  • 13:30-14:00 Reports from breakout discussion groups
  • 14:00-15:30 Session 7: Emergence of Emergence (Chair: Yuko Ishihara)
  • 14:00-14:10 Session 7: Introduction by Session Chair Yuko Ishihara (Institute for Advanced Study)
  • 14:10-14:40 Session 7: Presentation by Mark Bedau (Reed College)
  • 14:40-14:50 Session 7: Dialogue
  • 14:50-15:20 Session 7: Presentation by Francis Heylighen (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
  • 15:20-15:30 Session 7: Dialogue
  • 15:30-16:00 Coffee break
  • 16:00-17:00 Session 8: Panel Discussion (Chair: Mary Voytek)
  • 16:00-16:10 Session 8: Introduction by Session Chair Mary Voytek (NASA, Earth-Life Science Institute)
  • 16:10-16:20 Session 8: Remarks by Panelist John Baross (University of Washington)
  • 16:20-16:30 Session 8: Remarks by Panelist Luis Campos (University of New Mexico)
  • 16:30-16:40 Session 8: Remarks by Panelist Sara Walker (Arizona State University)
  • 16:40-17:00 Session 8: Panel Dialogue
  • 17:00-17:05 Closing of the Symposium
  • 17:30-19:30 Izakaya ELSI (Location: ELSI-1 Agora)


The 7th ELSI Symposium will be held in multiple locations on the Ookayama Campus of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in Meguro, Tokyo, Japan. Please refer to the Google Map below for detailed locations.

  • Joint events, lectures, and sessions involving all participants will be held at Digital Hall, near the entrance of the campus close to Ookayama Station.
  • Poster Sessions will be held at the ELSI Gallery and ELSI Agora in the ELSI-1 building.
  • Breakout Sessions will be held at Mishima Hall and the ELSI Agora in ELSI-1 in addition to the ELSI Lounge and Studio 407 at the ELSI-2 building. Detailed assignments will be given to participants at registration.
  • Pre-Registration and the ELSI Tour (Monday 7 January) as well as the Symposium Banquet (Thursday 10 January) will launch from the ELSI Agora in ELSI-1.


All attendees are requested to fill the following registration form, this will (1) tell us how to list your name and affiliation for your badge, (2) inform us whether you will attend the banquet so that we know how much food and drink to order, (3) allow you to submit a poster abstract if you wish to do so, and (4) give you an opportunity to inform us about any special needs or assistance you may require.

Code of Conduct

Harassment of any kind will not be tolerated. All event attendees and staff have the right to a space that is free of all forms of discrimination, harassment, bullying, and/or retaliation. Participants who are requested to stop any harassing behaviour are expected to comply immediately. If you wish to report harassment, suspect that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of the organizing committee as soon as possible.