Mareen Hoffman

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I am just starting my PhD in mathematics at the Free University (FU) Berlin and at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. My general research interests lie at the interface between mathematics and research on global environmental change with a special focus on investigating and understanding transitions in complex socio-economic and ecological systems. In my PhD project, I want to investigate the role of small random perturbations in the behavior of individual agents on the emergent behavior of (economic) agent-based models.

I studied mathematics and environmental management at the FU Berlin and at McGill University, Montreal (Canada). In my Master's thesis I developed a formal linguistic description of the concept 'resilience'. The past year, I was working at PIK within the EU project 'ADAM - Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies' on a meta-analysis about climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation.

I like running in the morning, (Anusara) Yoga, and literature. I am also looking forward very much to do some hiking tours at the weekends! My email address: mareen.hofmann at

And these are my answers to Dan's questions:

1. Main interests As outlined above, my general interest is in mathematical analysis of systems exhibiting critical behavior.

2. Expertise Mainly in mathematics, and herein especially regarding dynamical systems theory.

3. What I hope to get out of the CSSS I see the CSSS as an excellent opportunity to get necessary background and a clearer picture about complex systems theory. There is a list of concepts / method / tools / approaches that I have heard of and which I would like to have a better idea of: phase transitions and self-organized criticality, percolation theory, statistical mechanics (esp. mean field theory, Ising model), path dependence, evolutionary game theory, coordination and synchronization, scaling and aggregation issues.

4. Possible projects in mind

  • I would like to study and compare the macroscopic behavior of ‘simple’ economic models (on the micro-level) that differ in the behavior of and interaction between the agents, possibly also in comparison with standard general equilibrium models. This could be done by playing with the corresponding computer simulations, but I would like to also a more formal (mathematical) analysis.
  • I would also like to study and implement models that look at phase transitions / self-organized criticality.
  • In addition, I would like to discuss issues of e.g., reproducing results of complex computer simulations (which can hardly be described in every detail in any paper or lecture) and implications for research.