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Unifying Concepts in Glass Physics (6757)

February 01, 2015 – February 06, 2015


Aspen, Colorado, USA



Sharon Glotzer, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Patrick Charbonneau, Duke University
Andrea J. Liu, University of Pennsylvania

The deadline to register for this event is October 15, 2014

Register for this event



Disordered and frustrated systems are of interest in physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, biology, and beyond. Although they are disciplinarilyy scattered, these systems share a number of similar features, such as complex free energy landscapes, phase transitions, subtle correlations, and jamming. Recent progress on both the theoretical and experimental fronts has revealed deep analogies and connections among these sub-fields. Further progress on this important, emerging research area will require an interdisciplinary effort. One of the main goals of this workshop is to synergistically bring together theorists, experimentalists, and computational scientists who work on various of facets of these problems.

The program will promote interactions between participants from statistical physics, mathematical physics, soft and condensed matter physics, as well as researchers at the boundary of physics and other disciplines such as mathematics, computer science, and statistics at the Gateways of Emergence. We specifically intend to bring together researchers from the following sub-fields that contribute to the organizing concepts to be examined at the workshop.


In the list of invited speakers below, we indicate the area of each speaker by the following abbreviations.

  • Glasses (G): Liquids, when rapidly cooled, solidify in an amorphous state in which the disorder is self-generated.

  • Jamming (J): Collections of frictionless soft spheres can exhibit a jamming transition—the onset of mechanical rigidity—at zero temperature as a function of packing fraction.

  • Granular Physics (Gr) : Macroscopic collections of objects, such as rice in a silo or coal in a hopper, can jam such that their dynamics and statics are similar to that of other disordered systems.

  • Colloidal glasses (C) : colloidal suspensions, when raised to high density, can behave as solids although their structure is disordered.

  • Optimization (O): Many combinatorial optimization problems, such as the graph coloring and Boolean satisfiability problems, provide benchmarks to test search algorithms. Given the generality of these problems, their solutions have applications in many concrete settings in many areas of science and engineering.

  • Packing (P): the packing problem consists of placing hard objects in Euclidean space so as to maximize the amount of filled space under various constraints. This mathematical problem finds applications in many concrete problems, ranging from communication and error corrections to materials science and physics.

  • Active jammed systems (A) : systems of self-propelled particles can jam at sufficiently high densities. Such systems are driven at the microscopic scale, so that energy enters in the microscopic scale and feeds to larger scales in a way that is fundamentally different from equilibrium thermal excitation.

The program will explore the intimate connections between these problems, and introduce the tools originating from the statistical physics of disordered systems to do so effectively.

Thrust Area

Soft Matter

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