November 17, 2021

Looking for similarities across complex systems | MIT News

How does the motion of individual cells give rise to the structure of biological tissue? How do an embryo’s wrinkles relate to an animal’s shape? And what does the stability of knots have to do with the way spaghetti breaks?

These are some of the questions Jörn Dunkel has explored at MIT, through the lens of mathematics.

“There are many problems where, if you look at them from the right way, you can treat them in a similar manner because they have a common structure at some abstract level,” says Dunkel, who received tenure in 2020 as an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics. 

Dunkel’s work is planted in theory, and numerical principles of geometry, mechanics, and pattern formation. From this base of mathematical operations, he has explored wide-ranging fields, looking for ways to bridge seemingly disparate systems through what he…

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