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Statistical Mechanics of Decision Making

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

Optimisation under Uncertainty is a pervasive problem in real life: decisions have to be made (for example about a design) before one knows the full detail of how it will be challenged to perform. Even in model problems, this can mean the figure of merit is performance averaged over many input scenarios, or it can be determined by some other statistic of the performance distribution.
The first strand of your PhD will be where performance is assessed through simulations, with scope for collaboration with Warwick Business School. We recently published what is the most efficient algorithm which tends to an exactly thermal equilibrium [1]: the question is to what extent one can beat this by algorithms which are only approximately thermal. In the background here is a big physics question: if the microstate dynamics is only approximately thermal, what can you say about the evolution of macrostates?

A second strand concerns theoretical studies of model transport and other service networks, with scope for collaboration with University of Utrecht and their partnership with Dutch Railways. We have already shown that key resource limitations can drive spatial instability and near collapse of service in a simple rail network model. The questions are then: Can we understand the vulnerability to instability in more general and less model specific terms? Can we diagnose when the system is close to instability? Can we design to improve its performance under uncertain perturbations?

The research will entail a mixture of model simulations and analytic approaches. In addition to an EPSRC studentship, it is anticipated that visits to Utrecht can be funded through the Dutch collaboration.

Funding Notes

A full 3.5 year studentship for UK students (fees and maintenance) is available. Candidates should hold or expect to hold a 1st (or high 2.1) in Physics or related subject area. See View Website for further details.

The Physics department is proud to be an IOP Juno Champion and a winner of an Athena Swan Silver Award, reflecting our commitment to equal opportunity and to fostering an environment in which all can excel.

How good is research at University of Warwick in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 54.60

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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