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Thursday 22nd April 2021


In foundational ontology, 4-dimensionalism is shorthand for a mathematical-philosophical basis for a rigorous global identity criterion based upon composition. It acquired this name as a vital part of the approach is treating individuals as extended in time as well as space, with two objects composed of the same spatio-temporal parts being considered identical. The opportunity this brings to data sharing and integration on a large scale (both within and across organizations) is that it introduces an increased level of rigour into the way we model the world. This in turn enables a step change in the consistency that it is possible to achieve in data which is critical to enable effective data sharing and integration.

Historically, some have claimed that 4-dimensionalism does not match with how we talk about the world in everyday terms, and this has led to claims it is counter-intuitive which has sometimes been a barrier to adoption.

However, recent years have seen some important advances in the 4-dimensional ecosystem, in how it fits into a wider information management landscape. This enables its exploitation, in improvements to the ways of talking about 4-dimensionalism to make it more approachable, to the formalisation of the foundations for 4-dimensionalism, to the grounding of a 4-dimensional ontology using a constructive approach. These are being brought together in the National Digital Twin Programme and the Information Management Framework at its heart.

So now is the time to take a fresh look at the 4-dimensional ecosystem - to see how it works and the potential it has to help deliver large scale data sharing and integration.

Aims and Objectives

This one day workshop presents an opportunity to get up-to-date on the state of the art with 4-dimensionalism and its application. It is a joint collaboration between the Newton Gateway to Mathematics, GCHQ, UCL STEaPP, Southampton University, Warwick University and Brunel University.

Current and potential applications of 4D/Digital Twin data modelling are wide ranging. In recent decades it has been used in both Oil and Gas and Defence/Security environments. Potential uses include the built environment and various engineering applications including aircraft engines, wind turbines, buildings and large structures, control systems.  

The Grenfell tragedy and subsequent enquiry has uncovered the failure to use information effectively by a complex ecosystem of organisations.  At the same time the challenges posed by responding to Covid has resulted in the Royal Society DELVE group to state clearly that there is a lot to learn from the current shortcomings in the use of data.  The integrated use of data to inform key decisions offers a lot of potential.  However, integration of data turns out to be far harder than is generally assumed.  This event will cover what it takes to address data integration and illustrate its grounding in both pure mathematics and philosophy.

A programme of talks will outline recent advances in the 4-dimensional ecosystem, and how they are being taken up and applied within the National Digital Twin programme. 

This event should be of interest to Data Architects from multiple settings including, industry, business and the public sector.

4-Dimensionalism in large scale data sharing and integration will also have broad appeal to the mathematical sciences as it draws upon a surprising number of branches of pure mathematics disciplines in the construction of a formal model basis for data integration.  It should be applicable to a wide range of applied mathematics fields, where the use of models and data to increasingly complex areas is vital, and supports improved and trusted human-centred decision making.  Presentations will touch on set theory, topology, geometry, combinatorics and formal logic and explain why the need for consistency in data depends on harnessing them.

A Provisional Programme is available here

Registration and Venue

To register and for further information, please follow the registration link in the left hand panel.

The workshop will be hosted virtually by the Newton Gateway to Mathematics and the joining instructions will be circulated prior to the event.

In collaboration with