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About me

Hi! I am an applied mathematician who develops new methodologies for quantifying, understanding and controlling complex systems. I am originally from Dublin in Ireland, but I currently live in Leipzig in Germany. My undergraduate background is in theoretical physics which I studied at University College Dublin, although towards the end of my degree I began to realise that I was actually more interested in the more real-world scale of dynamical systems and network theory than relativity or quantum physics.

With this in mind, I pursued a continued on to study computational science where I continued to learn more about networks and dynamical systems whilst also broadening my interests into topics such as genetic algorithms, statistical learning and information theory. Realising that these interests all fell within the broad church of complex systems led me study complexity science at the Mathematics Institute in the University of Warwick. During this time, I became particularly interested the various attempts and approaches to deriving general theories for complex systems based on information theory. Since complex systems can perhaps be most broadly be defined as a set of components and interactions that may lead to non-trivial emergent behaviour, and since information theory allows us to quantify the strength of both linear and non-linear interactions, it is the natural language for deriving general theories in complexity science.

My enthusiasm for these ideas led me to move to the far side of the world to pursue a PhD on this topic with Joseph Lizier in the Centre for Complex Systems at the University of Sydney. The particular focus of my PhD research was on a new area of multivariate information theory called partial information decomposition, which aims to partition the total information that a set of sources provide about a target into the following components: the unique information provided by each source, the shared information provided redundantly by two or more sources, and the synergistic information that is only attainable from two or more sources together. My thesis introduced a new framework for information decomposition that allows us to decompose the multivariate information provided by individual realisations rather that entire variables. Upon completion, I spent one year working as an Associate Lecturer in Complex Systems during which time I worked to apply the framework developed during my PhD to identify where and when multiple input streams of information are being synthesised in emergent computation in complex systems.

Most recently, I have moved back to Europe (at least for now) to work as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Prof. Juergen Jost's group on the General Theory of Complex Systems at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. In particular, my research currently focuses on further developing the algebra of multivariate information theory with a particular interest in unifying or categorising the various different approaches to multivariate information decomposition.