Event: International Workshop on  Statistical Mechanics & Information in Evolution


A Crossroad of Empirical and Theoretical Foundations


July 4 – 6, 2016

Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, Germany

Aim of the workshop
To bring together the different existing analogies between evolutionary biology and statistical mechanics, as well as with information theory.

Harold P. de Vladar, Parmenides Foundation
Erwin Frey, Ludwig Maximilians University




In genetics and evolution we employ an information jargon: genetic code, translation, error, and in some verbal theories, such as in the Major Evolutionary Transitions, change in the mode of transmission of hereditary information is regarded as one of the central aspects leading to such key evolutionary steps. However, there is little –if anything at all– in this jargon that links as such to formal notions of information.
By understanding if/when some metaphors can be casted as precise analogies, we can gain further advance in open questions of evolutionary biology.
Population genetics has greatly benefited from the application of methods from physics’ statistical mechanics. Although with much less strength and less attention, the same is true for information theory. Since evolutionary biology has gained so much from these fields, we consider that a workshop that exposes in detail the bridge between these disciplines is timely.


  • Establishing what is the relationship between the existing approaches of Statistical Mechanics, Information Theory and Evolutionary Biology.
  • Review empirical works and applications that employ Statistical Mechanics and Information Theory: inference of evolutionary processes and of genotype-phenotype maps.
  • Framing evolution as process of information geometry.
  • Formalising the notion of information usage and transmission during the Major Transitions.


Target audience
Researchers interested on the interface between evolutionary biology, statistical mechanics, information theory, or alike.

There are no registration costs, but we do have very limited space. If interested, please send an email with a motivation paragraph and CV to sekretariat'at'parmenides-foundation.org



Monday 4

  • What limits the amount of information that can be accumulated and maintained by selection? Nick Barton
  • Ancestral processes with selection. Ellen Baake
  • What is adaptation, and how should it be measured?Joel Peck
  • Probability models of evolution: sexual and asexual genetic algorithms that satisfy detailed balance. Chris Watkins


Tuesday 5

  • The influence of environmental noise and demographic fluctuations on evolutionary dynamics. Mauro Mobilia
  • Evolutionary Games of Condensates. Erwin Frey
  • Spatial Structure, Cooperation, and Competition in Biofilms. Carey Nadel*
  • Origin of Life in Thermal gradients. Dieter Braun
  • A generative model for the genetic architecture of quantitative traits. Yuval Simons and Guy Sella

* This lecture is at the LMU


Wednesday 6

  • Characterizing Finite Population Dynamics via Information Theory. Marc Harper
  • Typical genotypes: utilizing a core information theoretic notion in population genetics. Omri Tal
  • Information Geometry and population genetics. Tat Dat Tran
  • Do evolving quantitative traits optimize entropy? Katarina Bodova
  • Survival of the simplest: evolutionary limits to microbial complexity. Torsten Held
  • Information enters biology when there is a distinction between genotype and phenotype. Harold P. de Vladar

Funding by

Ludwig Maximilians Universität