Research Interests

My work in particle physics has focused on basic questions concerning the nature of space and time.  I have worked on the origin of the thermodynamics of gravitating systems and the apparent loss of quantum information in the presence of black holes.  My work has shown ways in which the familiar smooth structure of space-time can emerge as a long-distance effective description of more complex underlying physical constructs.   My work has also explored how the matter and forces whose existence is known from laboratory experiments and astrophysical measurements arise from a fundamental unified theory of forces, matter and spacetime.

My interests in the nature of information, and the ways it is produced, processed and transmitted have also led to my present research in neuroscience.  My ongoing work explores the principles that underlie the organization of neural circuits at many scales, focusing especially on the visual system, the olfactory system, and the cognitive “sense of place”

I have also written on problems in statistical inference and machine learning, and in particular on “Occam’s Razor”, i.e., the tradeoff between simplicity and accuracy in quantitative models.


Vijay Balasubramanian


I grew up in India and Indonesia and attended high school at the Jakarta International School.

I have B.S. degrees in Physics and Computer Science from M.I.T.   I received an M.S. in Computer Science from M.I.T. and a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from Princeton University

I was a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows and a Fellow-at-Large of the Santa Fe Institute.

I am the Cathy and Marc Lasry Professor of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania where I have received the Ira H. Abrams Memorial Award for Distinguished Teaching.  I was a Penn Fellow (2012) and during the 2012-2013 academic year I was a Visiting Professor at the École Normale Supérieure, Paris supported by a fellowship from the Fondation Pierre Gilles de Gennes.