Mathematicians find core mechanism to calculate tipping points


Climate change, a pandemic or the coordinated activity of neurons in the brain: In all of these examples, a transition takes place at a certain point from the base state to a new state. Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have discovered a universal mathematical structure at these so-called tipping points. It creates the basis for a better understanding of the behavior of networked systems.

It is an essential question for scientists in every field: How can we predict and influence changes in a networked system? “In biology, one example is the modeling of coordinated neuron activity,” says Christian Kühn, professor of multiscale and stochastic dynamics at TUM. Models of this kind are also used in other disciplines, for example when studying the spread of diseases or .

All critical changes in networked systems have one thing in common: a tipping point where the system makes a transition from a base state to a new state. This may be a smooth shift, where the system can easily return to the base state. Or it can be a sharp, difficult-to-reverse transition where the system state can change abruptly or “explosively.” Transitions of this kind also occur in  change, for example with the melting of the polar ice caps.

More here.