Conceptual and Mathematical Foundations of Embodied Intelligence

February 27 - March 01, 2013
Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences


In the last few decades, an overwhelming number of case studies produced the evidence that intelligent behavior of naturally evolved agents efficiently involves the embodiment as part of the underlying control process. Nowadays, there is no question that the exploration and exploitation of the embodiment represent important mechanisms of cognition. The shift from the classical view to the modern embodied view, also referred to as the cognitive turn, not only framed a novel way of thinking about intelligence but also identified a number of fundamental principles that intelligent systems obey. Well known examples are the principle of cheap design, morphological computation, and information self-structuring. Although there is general consensus on the intuitive meaning of such principles, the field of embodied intelligence currently lacks a formal theory. We think that the mathematical foundations of the core concepts have to be advanced and unified, in order to be able to realize and better understand cognitive systems that exploit their embodiment in an autonomous and completely intrinsic way. Information theory, dynamical systems theory, and information geometry already turned out to be useful in this regard. However, there is much more, and also much more to do.

Summarizing, the goal of the workshop is to identify the core concepts and to advance the theoretical foundations of embodied intelligence.

Non-exhaustive list of topics


  • system environment distinction/separation
  • levels of embodiment and agency
  • sensori-motor contingencies
  • morphological computation
  • information self-structuring
  • learning and adaptation
  • ...

Formal methods

  • information theory
  • information geometry
  • dynamical systems
  • Bayesian networks
  • causal information flows
  • ...

Date and Location

February 27 - March 01, 2013
Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences
Inselstraße 22
04103 Leipzig
see travel instructions

Scientific Organizers

  • Nihat Ay, MPI for Mathematics in the Sciences
  • Ralf Der, MPI for Mathematics in the Sciences
  • Keyan Ghazi-Zahedi, MPI for Mathematics in the Sciences
  • Georg Martius, MPI for Mathematics in the Sciences

Administrative Contact

Antje Vandenberg
MPI for Mathematics in the Sciences
Contact by Email

Financial Support

28.06.2018, 08:45