Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

Wolfram Summer School


Yue Lin

Summer School

Class of 2011


Yue Lin is a PhD candidate in ecology at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and Dresden University of Technology, Germany. He has a BEng in electronic information and MSc in ecology.

He is particularly interested in modelling the complexity and self-organization of varied ecosystems. Currently, he is working on allometry, biotic interaction, and population dynamics of vascular plants; the broad goal of his current work is to develop a theory explaining what associations of plants grow where and why. As an adherent of “Emergence”, he believes “Complexity from simplicity, order from chaos”, agrees with Einstein that “God does not play dice”, and recognizes that “All models are wrong, but some are useful”.

Project: Plant Interaction: From Cell to Ecosystem

“It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.”—Charles Robert Darwin, The Origin of Species (1898)

We exist in a world that is characterized by complexity, though its proper patterns emerge from simplicity. From cells to ecosystems, functioning does not depend crucially on each underlying detail, but all involute elements can be well-regulated in our life support systems, where it seems likely that an “invisible hand” derives “hidden order” out of chaos. What force drives pattern- and functioning-emerging from complexity? How do these broad-scale systems organize themselves? What little detail is essential for explaining the broad-scale features that emerge? To answer these questions, the keynote of research is emphasized as the “Interaction” (Holland, 1995. Hidden Order).

Concretely, an essential problem as well as a central challenge in ecology is to understand “the emergence of broad scale community and ecosystem patterns as the result of interactions among individuals” (Deutschman et al., 1999). Furthermore, research on interaction can link to some of the most important current ecological issues, including biological invasion and conservation, relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functions, and the impacts of global change.

In this project, I focus on the plant system. Simulating individual plants by using a general ontogenetic growth function that is based on fundamental principles of energy budget, I attempt to explore the effect of energy use and biotic interaction on plant ecosystem assembly, dynamic, and structure.

Favorite Four-Color Totalistic Cellular Automaton

Rule 840617