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Nonequilibrium problems are ubiquitous in nature, but there are no known general principles to guide us in understanding them. In recent years, however, developments in nonlinear and chaotic dynamics on the one hand, and insights of scaling and universality on the other, have unified many related areas of physics and have suggested important connections between seemingly disparate scientific topics. These topics are often highly interdisciplinary and are continuously evolving in scope so that a simple all encompassing description is difficult. The resulting discipline is called Statistical and Nonlinear Physics. The various overlapping topics that come under this heading have their roots in classical statistical physics and critical phenomena but emphasize the dynamical aspects of the problems. In recognition of this development, and of the fact that the American Physical Society (APS) did not have an unit supporting it, a Topical Group on Statistical and Nonlinear Physics was formed in 1998.
Since its inception, GSNP has looked to include a wide spectrum of nonlinear, nonequilibrium systems within its domain, including areas of nonlinear dynamical systems and chaos, pattern formation, spatio-temporal chaos, turbulence, nonequilibrium statistical mechanics, and quantum chaos. Recently, there is the recognition that the emerging area of soft condensed matter physics, which includes many exciting topics such as granular media, friction, foams, colloids, biomolecules, polymers, liquid crystals, vesicles and membranes, has considerable overlap with topics in the GSNP. One of the exciting aspects of this field is its rapid evolution and continuously changing focus. We hope that in the coming years we can keep a vital mix of venerable, established topics with new emerging ones.
The Topical Group on Statistical and Nonlinear Physics holds its annual meeting in conjunction with the APS March Meeting. The GSNP organizes Invited Symposia on recent exciting research in the area of statistical and nonlinear physics. In addition, Focus Sessions are put together in particularly active research areas where a grouping of talks including one or two invited talks combined with multiple contributed talks highlights that scientific effort. The March Meeting is an important venue for the GSNP and we encourage you to participate and suggest Symposia and Focus Session content.