Employment History
  Technical and Professional Skills
Joseph Troy LIZIER
B.Sc.(Adv)   B.E.(Hons I & Medal)   Grad. Cert. Ed. Stud.   Ph.D.
joseph.lizier at gmail.com
+61 408 186 901 (AU)



Research Statement


My primary research interest lies in the information dynamics of distributed computation in complex systems. The physics or nature of distributed computation has long been of interest in complex systems, artificial life, bioinformatics and computational neuroscience. Systems in all of these domains are often described in terms of memory, communication or signalling and processing. The hypothesis I am following is that if we can describe and quantify distributed computation in these terms, with particular attention to their dynamics, then we will be better able to understand computation in natural and man-made systems, and their sources of complexity. It will also allow us to answer meaningful questions about computation in complex systems; e.g. when and how much information is transferred between two brain regions. This approach should also provide insights on how to better design distributed complex systems.

I have produced a framework to quantitatively define each of these distributed operations on information during computation. Formally they are information storage, transfer and modification, and collectively referred to as information dynamics. They are measured information-theoretically, and are called dynamics since they are studied on a local scale in space and time. I have introduced new measures including the active information storage, localised existing measures including the transfer entropy, and compared to other related measures including causal information flow (see papers [11,16,18,30,34] below).

Importantly, the framework has provided quantitative evidence for several long-held conjectures regarding distributed computation in theoretical systems, such as the roles of emergent structures in cellular automata [11,16,18,30,34]. I have also studied whether these computational properties are maximised in order-chaos phase transitions [13,24,25,29]. Further, I have produced a Java toolkit to implement the measures, and applied them to study computation in models of gene regulatory networks [13,24,25], artificial life systems [12,14], and in computational neuroscience [19,20,27,28,37,44,45], with insightful results in each domain. The existing work shows the approach is theoretically sound and has strong potential for making inroads for complex systems science into many disciplines.

Currently I am interested in how the physical structure of complex networks relates to their computational capabilities [19,22,25,32]. For example, I have found that ordered networks tend to be biased towards information storage behaviour, random networks tend to be biased towards information transfer behaviour, while small-world networks exhibit something of a balance between these operations [25,32]. I am also concentrating on applications to complex networks in computational neuroscience [19,27,28,37], e.g. examining task-based differences in spatiotemporal information transfer patterns in brain imaging data [27].

I have successfully collaborated on this work with researchers from, e.g., the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences, CSIRO ICT Centre, The University of Sydney, Goethe University, Indiana University, Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, Osaka University, University of Delaware, and Doshisha University.

Employment History

Academic research/teaching positions

Senior Lecturer
The University of Sydney (Jan 2015 to present).
I am a member of the Complex Systems Research Group, where my work continues to investigate how information is manipulated in complex systems and networks, with applications to machine learning and computational neuroscience. Read more about my current research in my Research Statement above, and at http://lizier.me/joseph/.
I also lecture in the Complex Systems Program, including CSYS5010 Introduction to Complex Systems (2017-) and CSYS5030 Self-Organisation and Criticality (2017-), and the Project Management Program, including PMGT5875 Project Innovation Management (2015-16).

Research Scientist (Jul 2014 to Jan 2015), and
Postdoctoral Fellow (May 2012 to Jun 2014)
CSIRO Digital Productivity and Services / Computational Informatics / ICT Centre, Sydney (May 2012 to Jan 2015).
Based in Dr. Oliver Obst's Data Mining team, my work focussed on the use information-theoretic measures in machine learning and complex systems, e.g. applications in health diagnosis, complex networks and computational neuroscience.

Postdoctoral Researcher Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences, Leipzig, Germany (Dec 2010 to May 2012).
Based in Prof. Juergen Jost's Dynamical Systems and Network Analysis, and Cognition and Neurosciences groups, my postdoctoral work sought to investigate how information is manipulated in complex networks, harnessing the expertise at MPI regarding dynamical systems, complex networks, synchronisation, information theory and computational neuroscience. My investigations here were quite productive, producing new insights into how network structure relates to computational properties (see Research Statement above).

Industrial/Engineering positions

Senior R&D Engineer (part-time) Seeker Wireless (Dec 2006 to Oct 2010).
I worked in the R&D team for the SIM toolkit client-side component of Seeker's mobile handset location solution. This included prototype work for new features, development on the production code-base, testing and investigation of specific handset compatibility issues, development of automatic build and deployment tools, and some Java web application development.

Senior Research Technologist (Feb 2004 to Jan 2006), and
Research Technologist (Jan 2001 to Feb 2004)
Telstra Research Laboratories (Jan 2001 to Jan 2006).
My role at TRL covered a wide variety of technologies, in particular service management, mobile telecommunications and XML web services. I was involved across all research activities including prototype development, consulting on emerging technologies, product trials and vendor evaluations. My roles in these projects ranged from regular team member to technical lead and project leader. (Expand)

Teaching-only positions

See details of student research project supervisions below at Academic skills and outcomes.

Casual Academic Tutor Department of Computing, and Department of Electronics, Macquarie University (Aug 2006 to Nov 2006).
ELEC116 - Introduction to Electronic Systems (for 1st year students)
COMP333 - Algorithm Theory and Design (for 3rd year students)
My duties as a tutor in these courses involved running weekly tutorials with mini-lectures, laboratories, and marking of assignments. I received outstanding teaching evaluations, which are available on request.

Tutor School of Electrical and Information Engineering, The University of Sydney (Jul to Nov 2000).
ELEC1102 - Foundations of Electrical Circuits (for 1st year students)
My duties as a tutor involved running weekly 2 hour mini-lecture/tutorials for classes of 60 students, as well as marking of weekly assignments.

Selected Publications

See and download all publications (plus abstract-only work) at http://lizier.me/joseph/publications/.
See also my list of presentations on these publications at http://lizier.me/joseph/presentations/. A selection of publications is as follows: (show all)

  1. T. Bossomaier, L. Barnett, M. Harré, J.T. Lizier, "An Introduction to Transfer Entropy: Information Flow in Complex Systems", Springer, Cham, Switzerland, 2016.
  2. M. Wibral, R. Vicente and J.T. Lizier, editors, "Directed information measures in Neuroscience", published in Understanding Complex Systems series, vol. 93, Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg, 2014.
  3. M. Wibral, J.T. Lizier, S. Voegler, V. Priesemann and R. Galuske, "Local active information storage as a tool to understand distributed neural information processing", Frontiers in Neuroinformatics, vol. 8, no. 1, 2014.
  4. L. Barnett, J. T. Lizier, M. Harré, A. K. Seth, and T. Bossomaier, "Information flow in a kinetic Ising model peaks in the disordered phase", Physical Review Letters, vol. 111, no. 17, 177203, 2013.
  5. J.T. Lizier, F. M. Atay and J. Jost, "Information storage, loop motifs and clustered structure in complex networks", Physical Review E, vol. 86, no. 2, 026110, 2012.
  6. X. R. Wang, J. M. Miller, J.T. Lizier, M. Prokopenko and L. F. Rossi, "Quantifying and Tracing Information Cascades in Swarms", PLoS ONE, vol. 7, no. 7, e40084, 2012.
  7. J.T. Lizier, M. Prokopenko and A.Y. Zomaya, "Local measures of information storage in complex distributed computation", Information Sciences, vol. 208, pp. 39-54, 2012.
  8. J.T. Lizier, S. Pritam and M. Prokopenko, "Information dynamics in small-world Boolean networks", Artificial Life, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 293-314, 2011.
  9. J.T. Lizier, J. Heinzle, A. Horstmann, J.-D. Haynes, M. Prokopenko, "Multivariate information-theoretic measures reveal directed information structure and task relevant changes in fMRI connectivity", Journal of Computational Neuroscience, vol. 30, pp. 85-107, 2011.
  10. J.T. Lizier, M. Prokopenko and A.Y. Zomaya, "Information modification and particle collisions in distributed computation", Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science, vol. 20, no. 3, 037109, 2010.
  11. J.T. Lizier, and M. Prokopenko, "Differentiating information transfer and causal effect", European Physical Journal B, vol. 73, no. 4, pp. 605-615, 2010.
  12. J.T. Lizier, M. Prokopenko and A.Y. Zomaya, "Local Information Transfer as a Spatiotemporal Filter for Complex Systems", Physical Review E, vol. 77, 026110, 2008.
  13. J.T. Lizier and G.E. Town, "Splice Losses in Holey Optical Fibers", IEEE Photonics Technology Letters, Vol. 13, No. 8, pp. 794-796, 2001.
  14. G.E. Town and J.T. Lizier, "Tapered holey fibers for spot-size and numerical aperture conversion", Optics Letters, Vol. 26, No. 14, pp. 1042-1044, 2001



Technical and Professional Skills