Summary (full academic profile below)
Tomas Veloz has a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies and an MSc in computer sciences, with majors in mathematics and physics. His research focuses on interdisciplinary mathematical modeling. His main research areas are Chemical Organization theory, where he has proven mathematical results such as the decomposition theorem and the existence of quantum-like organizational structures, and quantum cognition, where he has developed methods to represent collections of concepts in a Hilbert Space, and has shown that various cognitive and language phenomena exhibit quantum structures.
Additionally, Tomas Veloz is the founder and director of the Foundation for Interdisciplinary Development of Science, Technology and Arts (www.dicta.cl), a Chilean foundation which collaborates with CLEA and several other institutions worldwide to generate and disseminate integrated knowledge, and to develop projects with social impact.
Research topics and key publications (full list of publications)
- Partial Differential Equations:
- Veloz, T., & Pinto, M. (2015). Existence, computability and stability for solutions of the diffusion equation with general piecewise constant argument. Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications, 426(1), 330-339.
- Reaction Network Modeling:
- Evolutionary Game Theory: Veloz, T., Razeto-Barry, P., Dittrich, P., & Fajardo, A. (2014). Reaction networks and evolutionary game theory. Journal of mathematical biology, 68, 181-206.
- Systemic Modeling: Veloz, T. & Razeto-Barry, P. Reaction networks as a language for systemic modeling: Fundamentals and examples. Systems, 2017, vol. 5, no 1, p. 11.
- Ecological evolution and Mathematical logic: Veloz, T. (2020). The complexity–stability debate, chemical organization theory, and the identification of non-classical structures in ecology. Foundations of Science, 25(1), 259-273.
- Complex Ecological interactions: Veloz, T., & Flores, D. (2021). Reaction network modeling of complex ecological interactions: Endosymbiosis and multilevel regulation. Complexity, 2021, 1-12.
- Resilience: Veloz, T., Maldonado, P., Bussseniers, E., Bassi, A., Beigi, S., Lenartowicz, M., & Heylighen, F. (2022). Towards an analytic framework for system resilience based on reaction networks. Complexity, 2022.
- Quantum Cognition:
- Non-classical reasoning: Aerts, D., Sozzo, S., & Veloz, T. (2016). New fundamental evidence of non-classical structure in the combination of natural concepts. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 374(2058), 20150095.
- Concept superposition: Aerts, D., Broekaert, J., Gabora, L., & Veloz, T. (2012). The guppy effect as interference. In Quantum Interaction: 6th International Symposium, QI 2012, Paris, France, June 27-29, 2012, Revised Selected Papers 6 (pp. 36-47). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
- Indistinguishability in abstract reasoning: Aerts, D., Sozzo, S., & Veloz, T. (2015). The quantum nature of identity in human thought: Bose-Einstein statistics for conceptual indistinguishability. International Journal of Theoretical Physics, 54, 4430-4443.
- Evolution of Artifacts:
- Veloz, T., Tëmkin, I., & Gabora, L. (2013). A conceptual network-based approach to inferring the cultural evolutionary history of the Baltic psaltery. arXiv preprint arXiv:1310.0737.
- Metapopulation epidemiological modeling:
- Veloz, T. (2022). A metapopulations epidemic model and its measures for potential mitigation Un modelo epidémico de metapoblaciones y sus medidas para su posible mitigación. REVISTA DE MODELAMIENTO MATEMÁTICO DE SISTEMAS BIOLÓGICOS - MMSB, VOL. 2, No. 1, abril 2022.
Academic career and relation with CLEA (last update Sept, 2023)
I have always been fascinated with fundamental questions about the structure of our physical reality, meaning of life and what is our purpose. I studied a bachelor's in physics and another in mathematics to be well-prepared to go deep down on those questions in my life. During my bachelor's studies I became highly interested in cognitive science and the study of formal structures in mathematics, in a sort of evolved form of my early interests. This inspired me to obtain a master’s degree in Computer Science at the University of Chile, because at that time in Chile it was my best path to get a PhD scholarship in cognitive science abroad. During those years I complemented my expertise in simulations of complex physical systems, analysis of differential equations, and developed a master's thesis about algorithmic and dynamical properties of reaction networks in the emerging field of chemical organization theory, supported by its founder, Prof. Peter Dittrich, from the Friederich Schiller University (Germany). Prof. Dittrich invited me to work together when he noticed the theoretical results about decomposition of chemical organizations I was developing. Such results end up becoming the main result of my thesis and remain influential to my work.
From that experience, I became aware of the importance of the concept of emergence in complex systems for the future of science, and of the fact that scientific funding in the north hemisphere is way more accessible than in the south hemisphere. With that in mind, and despite the interesting thesis results and possibilities to continue in Germany doing a PhD, I was committed to develop a PhD studying the foundations of cognition. I contacted Prof. Diederik Aerts, former CLEA director, during my master's program to do a PhD with him on quantum cognition, which he initiated in the mid 2000’s. Due to his lack of time for PhD students at the time, he suggested that I start my PhD with his former PhD student Prof. Liane Gabora, who was a prof. at the psychology department at the University of British Columbia, Kelowna, Canada, and also had funding for students. I started then my PhD under the co-supervision of both of them.
During my PhD, I changed my UBC supervisor to Prof. Sylvie Desjardins, head of the mathematics department at the time. That change turned my project more into the mathematical arena, and also strengthened my bonds with prof. Aerts. As a PhD student, I had the chance to participate in multiple prestigious international and interdisciplinary instances with the funding of UBC and CLEA. The latter includes various Cognitive Science Annual Symposia, Conferences in Quantum Interaction, International Quantum Structures Association (IQSA) biennial meetings, the Santa Fe summer school in Complex Systems, among others.
Additionally, during my PhD time (2012-2015) I did multiple internships at diverse research groups in various universities over the world including the Friederich Schiller University (Bioinfornatics, Germany), Tianjin University (Computational Intelligence, China), Leicester University (Quantum Cognition, England), Northern Virginia Community College (Evolutionary Anthropology, USA), Institute of Philosophy and Complexity Sciences (Systems Science, Chile). In these internships I developed technical results and data analysis that shaped my thesis. Due to the important role that Prof. Aerts played over my PhD research, I visited CLEA every year during that period as well, an average of three months per year, and had the chance to collaborate with various CLEA researchers, specially with prof. Francis Heylighen, current director of CLEA. He became specially interested in Chemical Organization Theory (COT) already in 2012, and since then we have collaborated to enrich his work on Cybernetics with the more formal framework of COT.
These mobile, collaborative and productive experiences during my PhD culminated with a series of seminars in 2015 showing my PhD results in prestigious centres across Europe including the Max Planck Institute for Natural Science in Leipzig, the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and the Computer Science and Computational Linguistics group of the Saarland University. By then I understood that my academic profile and interests started shaping around collaborations in interdisciplinary sciences at the international level, and that CLEA is a perfect place to develop such profile not only because it is a well-located and flexible environment with an interdisciplinary mission, but also because my research interest lies right at the interface between the lifelong approaches developed by the former and current directors. For this reason, I did a one-year postdoc at CLEA after my PhD in 2016, supported by Prof. Aerts to delve into CLEA’s mission.
During that postdoc, besides my research at CLEA and the regular collaborations and visits, I organized an international symposium called 'Worlds of Entanglement' at the VUB, which gathered nearly 70 researchers from different parts of the world around the methods, concepts and challenges raised by quantum theory, and developed an interdisciplinary dialogue, inspired by the notion of entanglement, about science and other societal topics such as colonialism, feminism, sustainability, and others. The symposium took place in October 2017, and led to the creation of a special issue in the Springer journal Foundations of Science. In that year, I additionally prepared the VUB-part of an application for a MSCA doctoral network about quantum cognition applied to information retrieval using my PhD thesis “future work” chapter. Together with other 6 universities we fortunately got granted. That allowed the inclusion of two PhD students at CLEA with whom I also collaborated and informally supported their research projects. Additionally, during that year my connection to prof. Heylighen’s research strengthened and we started crafting a research project to study foundational questions about the emergence of purpose in general systems.
Since I always had the intention to return for some time to my country to develop science there and to share my international networks with Chilean researchers, I was able to get a postdoctoral scholarship from the national Chilean science agency (2017-2020) to advance my work in chemical organization theory at the institute of philosophy and complexity sciences (IFICC) based in Santiago.
During that period, in addition to my regular postdoctoral research, I became lecturer of philosophy of science at the University Andres Bello in Chile and directed the creation of a year diploma in philosophy of complex systems, as well as a 6-month diploma in data science. Despite the distance, I remained strongly connected to CLEA by taking co-direction of a PhD student, co-organizing a second version of the Worlds of Entanglement Symposium in 2019 (in Chile), which again brought several scholars from all over the world, and led to a second special issue in the journal Foundations of Science. Additionally I co-organized two other international events (MLSCB 18 and Alife19) which also led to special issues in the journals Soft Computing and Complexity. Moreover, I organized several seminars and workshops, remarkably the “CLEA Foundations Lecture” at IFICC whose speaker was Humberto Maturana.
By the end of my postdoctoral research in late 2019, I decided to start a NGO to foster interdisciplinarity and international collaboration at a global scale, so I created the foundation for the interdisciplinary development of science, technology and the arts, based in Chile. In parallel to that, I started working as a scientific consultant for the superior audit court of Chile. My role was to adapt guidelines provided by the World Bank and craft a plan for undergoing a digital transformation to perform audits harnessing the power of big data and AI. Such plan is currently in deployment. In parallel to that, Prof. Heylighen (PI) and I (co-PI) prepared a 3-year grant proposal on the origins of goal-directedness, and submitted it to the John Templeton Foundation. Fortunately we were selected for starting the project at the end of 2020.
However, since the pandemic hit in early 2020, I could not start preparing my return to Belgium until 2021. My social concerns around the pandemic drove me to gather a group of colleagues to study the pandemic data in March 2020, and I wrote a white paper about an advanced mathematical framework to study confinement strategies. This paper reached the director of the Foundation Ciencia y Vida, Dr. Tomas Perez-Acle, who invited me to apply to a grant from the US Airforce, which we got quickly granted due to the urgency of the situation, so I became the research leader of a 8 people interdisciplinary team in epidemiology at that institute in the period between my postdoc at IFICC and my to-be initiated position at CLEA. I directed this research project until November 2020, just before our project with Prof. Heylighen officially started. I then worked out the visa and paperwork to move to Belgium in June 2021 while starting the research from Chile.
In Autumn 2021, I decided to establish a research group called ’Systemic Modeling and Applications’ (SYMP) to centralize my multiple collaborations at CLEA. The group has met systematically every second week since its formation, and it currently gathers people from several disciplines and parts of the world. Some of the permament members include some of the CLEA postdoctoral and free researchers, Prof. Diederik Aerts (former CLEA director), Prof. Christian Jendreiko from HSD in Dusseldorf, Prof. Stefan Leijnen from Hogeschool Utrecht, and Prof. Aura Regianni from University of Bologna. Additionally, we have 6 graduate students that are in charge of the organizational aspects of the sessions, distributed in Belgium, the Netherlands, Chile, Uruguay, and Germany.
Since 2022, I started to become recognized at the international level. I became appointed the next secretary of IQSA, and the main organizer of its biennial conference (in 2024) which will take place at the VUB (organized by CLEA), I was apponted as a professor at the mathematics department at the Universidad Tecnologica Metropolitana in Santiago, Chile, and started receiving invitations to host sessions and speak at various international events.