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Didier Sornette is professor of Entrepreneurial Risks in the department of Management, Technology and Economics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), a professor of finance at the Swiss Finance Institute, and is an associate member of the department of Physics and of the department of Earth Sciences at ETH Zurich.

His topic: “How we can predict the next financial crisis!”

He is the author 500+ research papers and 7 books.

Much of Prof. D. Sornette’s research is based on the hypothesis that most extreme risks (and gains) are “dragon-kings’’, that is, they almost always result from maturations and drifts towards a critical instability, with measurable precursors either at the technical and/or socio-economic levels.

This leads to a research agenda focusing on the prediction of crises and extreme events in complex systems and in particular of financial bubbles and crashes, and the diagnostic of systemic instabilities. Other more beneficial extreme events that are amenable to the same methodology are blockbusters in the hollywood industry, great commercial successes and great technological breakthroughs and innovations.

For this, Didier Sornette uses rigorous data-driven mathematical statistical analysis combined with nonlinear multi-variable dynamical models including positive and negative feedbacks. Other applications are earthquake physics and geophysics, financial economics and the theory of complex systems, the dynamics of success on social networks and the complex system approach to medicine (immune system, epilepsy…).

In 2008, he launched the Financial Crisis Observatory to test the hypothesis that financial bubbles can be diagnosed in real-time and their termination can be predicted probabilistically.

When asked about his hobbies, Prof. Sornette points out that the many subjects and disciplines he is working are as many hobbies.

When “tired’’ by one subject, he finds refreshment and rejuvenation in shifting to another scientific challenge. He is also adept of a healthy life, as explained in his “performance article’’ entitled “Optimization of brain and life performance: Striving for playing at the top for the long run’’ (e-print available at published in german in the Swiss journal Schweizer Monat, Dezember 2011/Januar 2012; pp. 38-49, and entitled “Du kannst dein Leben steigern” (you can improve your life).

He practices actively the 7 principles outlined in this performance article, sleeps well, drink a lot of water, loves intensely, practice sports at a high level (winter ski, snowboarding, water monoski, wakeboard), eats a special diet, and promotes a psychology of “play’’ in all his activities and in his research team at ETH Zurich and internationally.