Manifolds in Nature


In the last few years with the advent of large scale data collection in many areas of science and the advent of Big Data in areas such as genomics, neuroscience, geophysical measurements and ecological observations it has become apparent that much to our surprise, the complexity of most large scale observations are not as complex as expected. That is in systems like in neuroscience where the human brain has 10^12 neurons or a mammalian genome with 25,000 genes do not behave like 10^12 or 25 thousand dimensional systems but much like maybe 2-20 dimensional systems. The evidence for that is that observations of thousands of neurons, genes or species can be well represented in low dimensional spaces with particular geometries. These shapes that describe well the relationships between networked components of large systems are loosely defined as manifolds. Although this has been observed in many areas of science, this near ubiquitously observed dimensionality reduction is largely without explanation.

Here in this conference we will bring scientists from many unrelated areas that rarely if ever interact where these low dimensional manifolds have been observed in the hopes to allow taking the concept of manifold in nature to new general insights that allow understanding how complex evolved networks can transfer information where channel capacity might be limited and are limited by evolutionary processes.

Questions that we hope to raise are such as:

  • Are there mathematical principles that necessitate this dimensionality reduction?
  • What is the role of time?
  • Are theorems in computation and pure mathematics going to provide some theoretical guarantees or give upper and lower bounds on dimensionality of natural systems?

In this conference to hope to connect domain specific scientists, algorithm creators as well as software and hardware computational scientists to connect and develop a common language that enables collaborative work across disciplines. In this way to get to know of each other’s contribution, we intend to create a community that is transdisciplinary and can address some of these questions that are still unaddressed to this day.

Important Dates

Workshop Dates: February 26 - March 1, 2024
Begin Accepting Applications: October 1, 2023
Application Deadline: November 28, 2023 Extended to December 12, 2023
Notification of Application Results: December 15, 2023
Participants arrive in Okinawa: February 25, 2024
Participants depart Okinawa: March 2, 2024


Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University, Okinawa, Japan
(Main campus and Seaside House)


  • George Sugihara (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD)
  • Terrence Sejnowski (Salk Institute for Biological Studies)
  • Stanislav Smirnov (University of Geneva)
  • Misha Ahrens (Janelia Research Campus)
  • Lisa Li (University of Michigan)
  • Greg Stephens (OIST)
  • Nuttida Rungratsameetaweemana (Columbia University)
  • Taro Toyoizumi (RIKEN CBS)
  • Yair Daon (Tel Aviv University)
  • Richard Gao (University of Tübingen)
  • Hiroaki Natsukawa (Osaka Seikei University)
  • Tatyana Sharpee (Salk Institute for Biological Studies)

Participation fee

45,000JPY (including accommodation in a shared room and food) *Airfare not included.


To apply, please fill in the application form.

For further information, please contact

OIST will NOT delegate any travel agencies to make a direct telephone call.  If you receive such a phone call, please bring it to our attention by sending email to <>.

OIST will handle the logistics of accommodation, travel, and meals for all workshop participants. OIST will also help with arranging visas when necessary.

We have been made aware of a hotel booking scam using OIST's name.
OIST will NEVER ask any travel agency to make a direct telephone call and/or contact you via an email on our behalf.
If you receive such a phone call or email, please bring it to our attention immediately by sending an email to <>.

OIST is deeply committed to the advancement of women in science, in Japan and worldwide. Women are strongly encouraged to apply.