Universal Properties of Decision-Making

Humanities - Engineering - Natural Sciences - Social Sciences


All life forms on earth need to make decisions in one form or another in order to survive, secure the production of offspring, or design and occupy their specific niches in our ecosystem earth. Given a rational, emotional or environmental background, decisions are taken depending on a number of boundary conditions. Decision-making implies deriving output variables from input variables at various different organizational levels. In everyday life, humans constantly are making decisions alone or together with others. They are aware of themselves. We tend to believe that we are coming to conscious and informed decisions. In contrast, simple life forms, e.g. hydra or slime molds, do not have a brain, or do not even possess a neuronal network. Nevertheless, they exhibit complex behavior in order to make an optimal decision securing their survival. More generally, formulating “decision making” as searching for an optimal solution encompasses processes in non-living systems as they occur, e.g., in logistics, telecommunications, or robotics.


At universities in Bremen, research on decision-making spans from the humanities and the social sciences via engineering disciplines to the natural sciences. A wide variety of disciplines at the University of Bremen and the Jacobs University are actively contributing to this exciting field of research. In a series of biweekly lectures, speakers will present various disciplines and their specific perspectives, starting this summer term (SS16): What are the mechanisms of these decision processes? Are there common universal properties of decision making independent of the species or specific systems?


Upcoming events

Developmental decisions in Physarum polycephalum: Single cell trajectories of gene expression, Petri nets, and the Waddington quasipotential landscape

Wolfgang Marwan, Otto von Guericke Universität, Magdeburg


06.12.2017, Rotunde (Cartesium), 16:00 - 18:00


The developmental switch to sporulation in the unicellular eukaryote Physarum polycephalum is a phytochrome-mediated far-red light-induced cell fate decision. It synchronously encompasses the entire multinucleate plasmodial cell and is associated with extensive reprogramming of the transcriptome. By repeatedly taking samples of single cells after delivery of a light stimulus pulse, we quantitatively analyse differential gene expression to obtain a time series dataset for each cell. Abstract

on Wednesdays
16-18 o'clock (fortnightly)

Rotunde, Cartesium
Enrique-Schmidt-Straße 5
28359 Bremen


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