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Stefan Thurner
Univ.-Prof. Mag.DDr. Stefan ThurnerHead of the Institute of the Science of Complex Systems

Center for Medical Data Science (Institute of the Science of Complex Systems)
Position: Professor

ORCID: 0000-0003-2495-6819
T +43 1 40160 36251


Complex Adaptive Systems; Econophysics; Personalized Medicine; Supply Chain Networks; Systemic Risk

Research group(s)

  • Complexity Science Hub Vienna
    Head: Stefan Thurner
    Research Area: Understanding complexity to tackle present and future challenges The Complexity Science Hub Vienna was founded with the vision to become the focal point of complexity science in Europe. The aim is to provide an exciting, creative environment for open-minded visionaries who are brave enough to step out of mainstream science. The Hub will be an incubator and playground for radically new ideas. Outreach activities share the excitement for complexity science with a wider public.

Research interests

Complex Adaptive Systems:

  1. Statistical mechanics of Complex Systems
  2. Theory of evolutionary processes
  3. Entropy and statistics of history-dependent systems
  4. Network theory
  5. Origin of scaling laws in driven non-equilibrium systems

Life Sciences:

  1. Gene regulatory networks
  2. Big medical data
  3. In-silico models of cells
  4. Cell motility

Systemic Risk:

  1. Quantification, understanding, and management of systemic risk
  2. Financial regulation
  3. Big financial data
  4. Large-scale models of the economy and health-care systems

Quantitative Social Sciences:

  1. Formation, organization, and stability of social structures
  2. Dynamics of innovation and collapse
  3. Quantification of human behavior
  4. Opinion formation


  1. Wavelet analysis
  2. Diffusion processes
  3. Fractal harmonic analysis

Techniques, methods & infrastructure

Stefan is external professor at the Santa Fe Institute, and president of the Complexity Science Hub Vienna.

Stefan obtained a PhD in theoretical physics from the Technical University of Vienna and a PhD in economics from the University of Vienna. He held postdoc positions at Humboldt University of Berlin and Boston University before joining the faculty of the University of Vienna and later Medical University. Stefan started his career with contributions to theroretical particle physics and gradually shifted his research focus to the understanding of complex systems.

Stefan has published more than 290 scientific articles in fundamental physics (topological excitations in quantum field theories, statistics and entropy of complex systems), applied mathematics (wavelet statistics, fractal harmonic analysis, anomalous diffusion), network theory, evolutionary systems, life sciences (network medicine, gene regulatory networks, bioinformatics, heart beat dynamics, cell motility), economics and finance (price formation, regulation, systemic risk) and lately in social sciences (opinion formation, buerocratic inefficiency, collective human behavior, efficiency of healthcare systems). He holds three patents.

His work has been covered extensively by the media such as the New York Times, BBC world, Nature, New Scientist, Physics World, and is featured in more than 800 newspaper, radio and television reports.


Selected publications

  1. Korbel, J. et al. (2023) ‘Homophily-Based Social Group Formation in a Spin Glass Self-Assembly Framework’, Physical Review Letters, 130(5). Available at: Available at:
  2. Thurner, S. (2022) ‘A Complex Systems Perspective on Macroprudential Regulation’, Handbook of Financial Stress Testing, pp. 593–634. Available at: Available at:
  3. Kaleta, M. et al. (2022) ‘Stress-testing the resilience of the Austrian healthcare system using agent-based simulation’, Nature Communications, 13(1). Available at: Available at:
  4. Haug, N. et al. (2020) ‘Ranking the effectiveness of worldwide COVID-19 government interventions’, Nature Human Behaviour, 4(12), pp. 1303–1312. Available at: Available at:
  5. Lo Sardo, D.R. et al. (2019) ‘Quantification of the resilience of primary care networks by stress testing the health care system’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(48), pp. 23930–23935. Available at: Available at: