Dynamics Days Central Asia: The 21st Century Silk Road: Science for Peace

From June 2nd to  5th, an international online conference was organized and hosted by Nazarbayev University, Nur- Sultan, Kazakhstan. During the conference, new results were discussed in the areas of dynamical systems, nonlinear dynamics, chaos, and more broadly, complexity science.

In particular, the focus was on nonlinear and stochastic mechanics, chaotic attractors, and complex networks applied to epidemic spreading, statistical physics and biological networks modeling brain dynamics, mathematical physics and mechanical engineering, quantum networks, fluid mechanics, and integrable systems. It was a very successful online meeting, with 33 invited speakers from UK, Greece, Germany, India, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Russia, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Belgium, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Indonesia, Turkey, and Kazakhstan. There were 130 participants from China, India, Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, UK, Greece, Slovenia, Turkey, Kurdistan, Brazil, USA, South Africa, Hungary, Spain, France, and Germany.

The conference, chaired by professor Anastasios Bountis, Nazarbayev University, is part of an international series of conferences launched in 2015 by a group of world-renowned scientists. The main goal of the conference is to contribute to the training of individuals in Central Asia by facilitating interaction among teachers and students of diverse countries.  By networking individuals from different countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, etc., it is hoped that the conference will play a role in building good relations and the larger world peace process.  On one hand, the complexity and diversity of Central Asia in terms of its politics, economics, and religions can at times create tensions or difficulties.  On the other hand, science can have a strong unifying power among people. Indeed, people agree or disagree on scientific matters independent of their religious beliefs, philosophical positions, or political opinions.  The conference organizers think it is particularly important for the region to create opportunities in which teachers and students of different countries meet together. The title of our conference exemplifies these lofty goals, even on a small scale: “The 21st century silk road: Science for peace”.  Although the “Dynamic Days Central Asia” conference has happened in past years, the organizers hope that it will become an annual event, to be hosted by a different Central Asian country each year. The first conference was organized in 2015 in the Mirzo Uluug’bek madrassa in Samarkand by prof. Davron Matrasulov, president of Uzbekistan’s physical society. We are now planning to meet next year in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Central Asia is a part of the world in rapid economic and demographic development. It comprises several nations including five republics of the former Soviet Union. From the historical point of view, it is an essential part of the silk road. The total population is quite large and is expected to double in the next 40 years. The population is mainly composed of young people and therefore it has a high potential and it is attractive for investments in education and research. For the most part, the current academic community is rather isolated and only collaborates a little with Europe.

In general, the main topic of this series of meetings is complexity, with applications ranging from natural to social sciences, from neuroscience (the brain is a complex system) to epidemiology (prediction and spread of epidemics). It is a highly interdisciplinary theme and one of the liveliest in contemporary science. Essentially, in the presence of a process whose evolution depends on many factors interacting with each other, the behavior of the system cannot be understood from the properties of the individual constituents. Examples of complex systems are: natural systems ranging from biomolecules, living cells, and humans; social systems and ecospheres; as well as sophisticated artificial systems such as the internet or any large-scale distributed software system.

Complex systems require an interdisciplinary approach. In fact, the universal questions they ask can be formulated similarly for a very broad spectrum of disciplines – from biology to computer networks to human societies. Furthermore, multidisciplinarity and integration across fields are necessary for understanding complex systems because using the standard methods of the respective specialist disciplines is often insufficient compared to a many-level approach.  

In the current context of globalization and the growing importance of long-distance interactions through the various networks, the analysis of complex systems will help to explore the various issues related to economic development, social cohesion, or the environment on different geographical scales. Finally, the rapidly growing influence of information and communication technologies and the large number of decentralized networks that depend on these new technologies require the study of complex systems and the solutions that come from such research. In particular, the current trend from processors to networks leads to the emergence of the so-called “widespread intelligence” which plays a growing role in how the networks of the future will be designed and managed.

It is our opinion that this initiative is the best way to contribute to the peace process by bringing together young scholars and researchers.  The conference facilitates networking and problem solving for such future societal leaders, not only from the countries of Central Asia but also from the nearby countries of the Caucasus and South Asia.