The Cournot Foundation is a non-profit organization operating under the aegis of the Fondation de France.
Dedicated to advancing the multidisciplinary heritage of the French scientist Augustin Cournot (1801–1877), the Foundation creates co-disciplinary chairs, finances postdoctoral programs and organizes sabbaticals for distinguished researchers.
A focal point is the Program for Probabilism.
The Foundation is led by an executive committee comprising founder Jean-Louis Beffa (Lazard), Nobel laureate Robert M. Solow (M.I.T.) and pioneering biologist Johan Paulsson (Harvard). It is supported by renowned probabilists Nicole El Karoui (University of Paris VI), Alice Guionnet (MIT) and Josselin Garnier (University of Paris VII), as well as philosopher of science Thierry Martin (University of Franche-Comté).
The Augustin Cournot Program for Probabilism
“The actions of intelligent and moral beings cannot be explained, given the state of our knowledge, and we can boldly say that they will never be explained by the mechanics of geometricians. They do not, therefore, fall within the domain of numbers by reason of geometry or mechanics, but inasmuch as the notions of combination, chance, cause and randomness are superior in abstraction to geometry and mechanics, and can be applied to the events of nature, to those in the intellectual and moral realms, as well as to phenomena produced by the motion of inert matter.”
Exposition of the Theory of Chance and Probability
[Exposition de la théorie des chances et des probabilités], 1843
The Cournot Foundation has launched the Augustin Cournot Program for Probabilism to support the development and use of probability across the sciences.
The Program encourages collaboration and discussion between the disciplines of probability theory and the sciences that have adopted probability or developed its applications. The Foundation also invites the social sciences to take part in the Program, shedding light on the issues and applicationsof probability. To that end, the Cournot Foundation organizes a multidisciplinary seminar that puts into perspective the development of probability in the sciences over the twentieth century, and particularly its advance in the last decade.
Starting in the field of physics and then moving to population genetics, probability has spread to many disciplines, such as chemistry, ecology, epidemiology, computer science, climatology, geophysics and molecular and systems biology – where it has had the greatest impact in recent years. Crossing traditional sciences, the Program aims to stimulate and accompany research in the mathematics of randomness, as well as in the physical, biological and computer sciences.
The program in action
Building a common agenda for probability
• What do the sciences that use probability have in common with respect to definitions, substance
• What differentiates probability models across disciplines?
• What is the role of simulation? Does it verify intuitions, explore or illustrate reasoning?
• What are the limits to the probabilization of science?
Organizing interdisciplinary discussion
The rise of probability theory in the sciences has modified the foundations of discourse.
• How has probability made its way into the sciences?
• How can stochastic issues be made more understandable from one discipline to another?
• How can a non-deterministic approach be made more accessible?
• What is the new decision-making environment?