The department of excellence "Faculty of Sciences"

The SNS has a solid tradition of excellence in the mathematical and physical disciplines; Biology, Chemistry and – in the field of Mathematics – Mathematical Methods for Finance, made their appearance at a more recent date. In this context, the “Faculty of Sciences” Department of Excellence departmental development project is intended to provide considerable impetus to the development of advanced lines of research and training in computational science and data science, favouring their integration with the other disciplinary areas.

The problem of extracting meaningful information from huge amounts of data is in fact central to various fields, and – above all in the economic and social fields, where it is often possible to trace the behaviour of millions of individuals, or of economic agents – for long periods of time. Consequently, Economics, Finance and the Social Sciences have been revolutionised by the advent of high performance computing and of artificial intelligence, which have raised the level of understanding and capacity for prediction. In Biology, Chemistry, Cosmology, Condensed Matter Physics and High Energy Physics (all areas of research well represented at the SNS), the volume and rate of data production may greatly surpass the possibility of processing them with conventional computational tools. At the same time, the great quantity of data available lays down the bases for new scientific paradigms: hypotheses are not formulated a priori, with the search for experimental validation to follow; rather, it is the study of structures within data that gives rise to new scientific hypotheses, in a data driven perspective. The development of efficient algorithms thus takes on a particularly central role and involves, in a transdisciplinary perspective, the various sectors of Mathematics (Numerical Computation, Calculus of Variations, Probability, Dynamic Systems, Partial Differential Equations, Harmonic Analysis).

The Department of Excellence project involves the development of specific objectives: 

* the strengthening of the research group in Financial Mathematics and the setting up of a research group in Computational Sciences;
* the activation of a doctorate course in Computational Sciences
* the development and consolidation of training activities in mathematical, statistical and computational methods, with an increase in synergies between interested research groups;
*the creation of a centralized infrastructure for high-performance computing and Big Data.


The new PhD course in Computational Methods is acting as a catalyst for the joint research activities involving lecturers and students of the Scuola Normale Superiore, lecturers on contract engaged for the doctorate courses, and visiting professors. The research activities involve problems of Physics, Computational Chemistry, Quantitative Finance and baseline research studies in Numerical Analysis. The teaching activities of the courses offered within the doctorate are strengthened by an intense seminar programme on the part of the visiting professors. Thanks to the Department of Excellence, the SNS can by now be considered an important research centre in the fields of Computational Sciences and Data Science, with significant synergies between the various areas (in particular Mathematics, Finance, Physics and Chemistry), with a significant number of lecturers, researchers and students engaged in this field, and with a tangible increase in transdisciplinary collaborations.