Statistical physics considers how many microscopic entities (be they atoms, molecules, bacteria, vehicles, etc.) may produce macroscopic phenomena. The central challenge of statistical physics in the twenty-first century is to describe nonequilibrium systems where the traditional assumptions of thermal equilibrium and the thermodynamic limit may no longer hold. Compared to equilibrium systems, one is still very much in the dark about nonequilibrium systems. Yet nonequilibrium systems are all-pervasive in nature: complex or biophysical systems require the approaches of nonequilibrium statistical mechanics as do the states of open quantum systems. Here in Edinburgh we conduct a wide programme of fundamental work on model systems which addresses the many novel principles of non-equilibrium physics. Our work also has direct relevance to a wide range of other disciplines, for example, biology, ecology and linguistics.

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