Sonja Smets, professor of Logic and Epistemology

16 June 2016

Dr S.J.L. Smets (1971) has been appointed professor of Logic and Epistemology at the University of Amsterdam's (UvA) Faculty of Humanities and Faculty of Science.

Sonja Smets is conducting research in logic and its applications in the field of epistemology and quantum theory. Her work focuses on the logical analysis of the laws and dynamics of classical and quantum information. Logic plays a crucial role in understanding the transfer of information within both classical scenarios and in a quantum context. The analysis of the conceptual, physical and abstract characteristics of information changes are used to model belief revision and knowledge updates as well as the changes that affect a physical system due to observations. More complex processes arise when combining classical and quantum information. 

A central question in her current research programme concerns the nature of the logic needed to reason about correlated information changes. In this context she is also studying correlations between epistemic and social networks and the correlations arising when the act of making a scientific observation itself affects the result (as in the case of quantum measurements, for instance). In her interdisciplinary projects she brings together insights and techniques from various research fields, such as Logic, Quantum Mechanics, the Philosophy of Science, Formal Epistemology, Theories on truth approximation, Epistemic Game Theory, Belief Revision Theory and Formal Learning Theory.

As professor of Logic and Epistemology, Smets will focus on the further development and promotion of logical techniques for analysing knowledge and the beliefs of agents in an interactive social context. Alongside her research, Smets will spend a large part of her time teaching in the Bachelor's and Master's degree programmes in Philosophy and in the Master's degree programme in Logic. She previously developed the Master's course in Logic, Knowledge and Science.

Smets has been attached to the UvA Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) since 2012, where she has been involved in managing the institute as a member of the management team since 2013. From September 2012 to June 2016 Smets served as director of the ILLC PhD programme and was appointed to the position of director of the IILC on 1 June 2016. Smets is a member of the Scientific Oversight Committee of Tsinghua University (Beijing) and the UvA Joint Research Center for Logic.

In 2009 Smets was among the Vidi laureates to receive funding from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for her research project on quantum logic and the applications of logic to quantum information theory. In 2012 she was awarded a prestigious European Research Council starting grant for a research project on the logical structure of correlated information changes. In the course of her career Smets has also received various prestigious scientific awards, including the Birkhoff-von Neumann Prize in 2012 for her research on quantum structures. In 2015 she was awarded the Hermann Lotze Prize for her contribution to various fields, including quantum cognition, the logical foundations of quantum mechanics and formal epistemology.

Published by  UvA Persvoorlichting