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Sonja Smets

Former researchers

Biography

Since June 2016, I am the scientific director of the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation at the University of Amsterdam. 

As a full professor of Logic and Epistemology at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation, at the University of Amsterdam, I hold a double affiliation in the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Humanties. I am 50% employed in Science and 50% employed in the Humanities. I joined the ILLC in 2012.

I combine my position in Amsterdam with a 0.2Fte temporary appointment as Professor II at the Logic, Information and Interaction Group, Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen, Norway. I joined the team in Bergen in January 2019.

Honours and Awards

  • 2019 - I'm a new elected member of the Academia Europaea.
  • 2012 - 2017 ERC Starting Grant: The Logical Structure of Correlated Information Change. See  our ERC LogiCIC project website.
  • 2010 - 2015 VIDI Research Grant: Reasoning about Quantum Interaction. NWO. See our vidi-project website
  • 2009 - 2012 Rosalind Franklin Fellowship, University of of Groningen
  • 2012 Awarded with the Birkhoff-Von Neumann Prize
  • 2015 Awarded with the Hermann Lotze Prize
  • Member of the NIAS-Lorentz advisory board from May 2017 onwards
  • Member of the Management Board of FOLLI,  The Association for Logic, Language and Information. from August 2016 onwards
  • Member of the Steering Committee for the Workshop series on Decisions, Games and Logic (DGL) from 2014 onwards
  • Awarded Fellow of the Tsinghua University – University of Amsterdam Joint Research Center for Logic (TALKC), July 2014 - July 2017

Fields of Scholarship

  • Dynamic epistemic logic, i.e. a series of logical systems designed to study and model information change in systems consisting of interacting agents. We build models of how agents update their knowledge individually and in group and how they revise their beliefs when new information comes in.  We focus e.g. on the effect of (semi)-private and public communication, on higher-order reasoning and on the mechanisms of social influence.
  • Quantum logic: this is work in the Logical foundations of quantum physics which has a long history. We design such logics and apply them to the analysis and verification of protocols in quantum information and quantum communication.
  • Formal epistemology: we use the formal tools coming from logic to analyze different epistemic attitudes ranging from belief to knowledge as well as their dynamics. These systems can be applied to analyze philosophical theories including epistemic paradoxes.
  • Social epistemology: we study agent's epistemic attitudes in a social context. Our latest work focusses on the use of logic to characterize and study information flow, opinion formation, social influence, informational cascades, homophily and polarization in social networks.
  • Logics for Multi-Agent Systems in AI: we use the above mentioned logics to study the intelligent interaction between agents in AI. These systems can advance research on human-computer interaction, learning, strategic reasoning and epistemic planning.

I'm currently a member of the Amsterdam Dynamics Group, together with group we run the weekly LIRa seminar on Logic and Interactive Rationality. My previous affiliations and memberships include: the Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science (CLWF) in Brussels, the Oxford University Research Group on the Philosophy of Information (IEG), the Research Group in Philosophy of Information (GPI) at the University of Hertfordshire, the group in Brussels working on Foundations of Exact Sciences (FUND) and the Center Leo Apostel (CLEA) in Brussels.

Teaching

I proud to teach a course on Epistemic Paradoxes and Philosophical Puzzles in ILLC's international Master of Logic Programme. Further I teach a Bachelor course on Logic and Society in Philosophy and in the international Minor on Logic and Computation. In these courses I show how logic,  the science of truth and reasoning, but also game theory and probability theory belong to the most important tools to analyze different processes of information flow. This ranges from the analysis of epistemic paradoxes to the advencement of our understanding of how beliefs are formed but also how they can be manipulated in society (e.g. via the spread of fake news).

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