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Research Scientist,
Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences

Inselstr. 22-26, 04103 Leipzig.

*external research associate at the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science of Ideas, Tel Aviv University

Formerly postdoc at the CPNSS, London School of Economics (LSE) & PhD at Tel Aviv University

omrit1248@gmail.com /  Omri.Tal@mis.mpg.de

I take a quantitative approach in the interpretation of core biological concepts, which are of continued interest to philosophers of science. Using formal tools from probability, statistical learning and information theory, and conceptual analysis, I aim to produce novel formulations that may enable a deeper appreciation, and also assist in the application, of otherwise technical notions. I am currently focused on understanding population structure from an information-theoretic perspective. I have written on concepts from behaviour genetics, population genetics, evolutionary psychology and quantitative genetics, with particular emphasis on the analysis of heritability and epigenetic transmissibility. I have also worked on philosophy of language and take great interest in philosophy of mind and cognition.

Recent Publications: 

Tal O, Tran-Tat D., Portegies J. (2017) From Typical Sequences to Typical Genotypes. Journal of Theoretical Biology. In Press. 

Granot G, Tal O, Rosset S, Skorecki K (2016) On the Apportionment of Population Structure. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0160413. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0160413

Tal O, 2013. Two Complementary Perspectives on Inter-Individual Genetic Distance. BioSystems. Volume 111, Issue 1, Pages 18–36

Tal O, 2012. Towards an Information-Theoretic Approach to Population Structure. Proceedings of Turing-100: The Alan Turing Centenary. p353-369

Tal O, 2012. The Cumulative Effect of Genetic Markers on Classification Performance: Insights from Simple Models. Journal of Theoretical Biology. Volume 293, 21 January, Pages 206-218.

Tal O, 2012. The impact of Gene-Environment Interaction and Correlation on the Interpretation of Heritability. Acta Biotheoretica. Volume 60, Issue 3, pp 225-237.

Tal O, Kisdi E, Jablonka E, 2010. Epigenetic contribution to covariance between relatives. Genetics 184: 1037-1050

Tal, O, 2009. From heritability to probability. Biol. Philos. 24: 81–105

Work in Progress:

-- Tal O. An axiomatic approach to informativeness for assignment

-- Tal O. On the value of genetic vs. phenotypic inferences

Awards and Fellowships:

The Rothschild Foundation Fellowship 2012-2013

Academic Services:

Reviewer for: Biology and Philosophy, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS)

Talks at Conferences & Presentations:

June 2008: Biological Explanations of Behavior: Philosophical Perspectives - "From Heritability to Probability"

April 2009: Israel Society for History & Philosophy of Science - "Heritability, Genetics & Environment"

July 2009: ISHPSSB 2009 - "Heritability, Probability and Epigenetic Extension"

October 2010: "Revisiting Lewontin's Fallacy" - Presentation at the Open U, Tel Aviv.

January 2011: "Classification and Clustering" - Presentation at the Van Leer Inst., Jerusalem

March 2012: Invited presentation at the Van Leer Institute, Jerusalem. International Workshop - Explanatory Styles in the Life Sciences. "Explanatory Models: The Perils of Oversimplification."

June 2012: Poster session presentation at the Turing-100 Conference, Manchester, UK: 'Towards and Information-Theoretic Approach to Population Structure'.

Oct 2012: Talk at CPNSS, LSE on "Lewontin's Fallacy"

Jan 2013: Talk at CPNSS, LSE: 'From Shannon's Axiomatic Approach to a New Sense of Biological Information'

Feb 2013: Invited talk at Egenis, University of Exeter. 'Lewontin's Fallacy Revisited: Keep it simple, but not too simple'

Feb 2013: Invited talk at Bristol University,  'From Shannon's Axiomatic Approach to a New Sense of Biological Information'

March 2013: Invited talk at the 5th Workshop on the Philosophy of Information, University of Hertfordshire.

April 2013: Invited talk at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP).

July 2013: Talk at the 2013 ISSPSSB meeting in Montpellier: ‘Is Shannon's Information Theory Applicable to Genetic Data?’ 

October 2013: Department talk, Max Planck MIS, Leipzig. ‘Quantifying Information on 'Population Structure'.

April 2014: Poster at "The 42nd European Mathematical Genetics Meeting 2014"

June 2014: Invited Talk at CIDNET14, Dresden. 

June 2014: Poster at '1000 Genomes Project and Beyond', 24-26 June 2014 at Churchill College, Cambridge, UK

Feb 2015: Invited talk at KLI, Vienna, 13 Feb

April 2015: Invited talk at the Second  Rothschild Fellowship Alumni Colloquium, Jerusalem 28 April.

May 2015: Roundtable workshop at WIKO, Berlin. Heredity in the Postgenomic Era II.

Aug 2015: Accepted for a presentation at 15th Congress on Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science (CLMPS), Helsinki. 'On the Concept of Genetic Distance: the perils of misinterpretation'.   

Sep 2015: On Genetic and Phenotypic Distances. Talk at Max Planck (MIS), Leipzig.

Jan 2016: From Typical Sequences to Typical Genotypes. Max Planck (MIS) Leipzig, internal seminar talk.

June 2016: Genotypes as information-theoretic coded ‘typical sequences’. Third International Conference in Code Biology. Urbino, Italy.

June 2016: From Typical Sets to Typical Genotypes. Philosophy of Biology in the UK. Bristol. Conference talk.

July 2016: 'Typical genotypes: utilizing a core information theoretic notion in population genetics'. Invited talk in 'Workshop on Statistical Mechanics & Information in Evolution', Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich.

July 2016: On the Apportionment of Population Structure. Founder Populations’ International Conference, July 2016, Haifa, Israel.

Dec 1st, 2016: A New Perspective from Information Theory on Genetic Data. Talk in internal seminar. The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya, Israel.


Jan 11, 2017: Invited talk at CS Information Theory Colloquium, University of Hertfordshire, UK.  

Jan 13, 2017: Invited talk in internal seminar, CCIMI, Cambridge University. A new perspective from Information Theory on genetic sequences. 

Jan 23, 2017: Invited talk at department colloquium, Haifa University, Department of Information and Knowledge Management.  

Academic Phylogeny:

  • Bsc Mathematics and Computer Science, Tel Aviv University.
  • MA Philosophy of Science, Tel Aviv University, Summa cum laude.
  • PhD Awarded December 2012: Tel Aviv University
    Location on Shelf: Sourasky Central Library
    Author: Tal, Omri
    Title: Heritability, variation and classification : towards a new formalization of biological concepts; [under the supervision of Eva Jablonka and Ariel Knafo]
    Published: [Tel-Aviv] : [s.n.], 2012
    System Number: 002394835
  • 2012-2013 Postdoc at the CPNSS, LSE, London.