Niko Formanek


Nico Formanek
Am Sande 5 
21335 Lüneburg


2005–2009 BSc. Physik, TU Darmstadt, Darmstadt.

 Title: Calculations concerning the de Haas van Alphen effect for free electrons and for Bloch

electrons , Advisor: Prof. Dr. N. Grewe

2009–2015 M.Sc. Physik, TU Darmstadt, Darmstadt.

 Title: Undecidability and emergence in cellular automata  Advisor: Prof. Dr. B. Drossel



MA Technik und Philosophie, TU Darmstadt, Darmstadt.

 Topic: Physicalism Advisor:Prof. Dr. C. Hubig



Dissertation, HLRS, Stuttgart.

 Topic: The transformation of physics by computer simulation  Advisor:Dr. Andreas Kaminski,

Prof. Dr. Claus Beisbart

Research Project

Changes in physics though computer simulations

I am interested in the changes in physics caused by computer simulation. My central claim is that there theory formation is changed in such a way that we see the emergence of a new type of physical theory, namely a theory that has the scope of being simulated on computer explicitly built in. Those theories are in some ways similar to models in science. They mediate between their generating theories and experiments and are autonomous from them - but in contrast to models they are abstract. This means that to generate outcomes which can in turn be compared to experimental results computer models as an intermediary are still required. Recent philosophy of science was mainly interested in the relation between computer models and their generating theories, while I im interested in the relation between generating theories and their computerized theories. To illustrate this claim I am working on a case study, comparing quantumchromodynamics (the generating theory) and latticeQCD (the computerized theory). LatticeQCD was developed as a calculational tool in the 1970s, solely for the purpose of computer simulation. In the wake of this process the theory of renormalization was given its modern interpretation. Renormalization is a metatheory of physical theories that describes their scale transformations and is very important to give meaning to modern quantum field theories. This effort is mostly due to Kenneth Wilson, who incidentially (or not) was also central in the development of latticeQCD. At MECS I am going to follow this strand of history, hoping to see where ideas from simulation (like discretization) influenced the interpretation of renormalization. A process that at least at the pedagocial level, can already be traced in Leo Kadanoffs' version of block-spin renormalization. Historically this is of course a later development than Wilson's ideas about renormalization and it remains to be seen which role simulation had in his thought.

Selected publications


  •     Demarcating Simulation, to appear in Philosophy of Engineering and Technology,

               Springer 2017.


  • Computersimulationen verstehen. Ein Toolkit für interdisziplinär Forschendeaus den Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften, 2017, TUprint, urn:nbn:de:tudatuprints-60793.