Peter Corning
Peter Andrew Corning

1935 (age 88–89)
Alma materBrown University (B.A.)
New York University (Ph.D.)
Known forSynergy in evolution, thermoeconomics
Scientific career
FieldsComplex systems, systems theory, cybernetics, evolution
InstitutionsNational Institute of Mental Health
University of Colorado
Stanford University
Institute for the Study of Complex Systems

Peter Andrew Corning (born 1935) is an American biologist, consultant, and complex systems scientist, Director of the Institute for the Study of Complex Systems, in Seattle, Washington. He is known especially for his work on the causal role of synergy in evolution.[1]


Peter Corning was born in Pasadena, California in 1935. He received his undergraduate BA from Brown University and completed a Doctor of Philosophy in interdisciplinary social science-life science at New York University. Later he was awarded a two-year National Institute of Mental Health Post-doctoral Fellowship for additional study and research at the Institute for Behavioral Genetics at the University of Colorado.

After graduating from Brown University, Corning served as a naval aviator and as a science writer at Newsweek magazine for two years before returning to graduate school. After his post-doctoral studies, he taught in the interdisciplinary Human Biology Program at Stanford University for nine years, along with research appointments in the Behavior Genetics Laboratory of the Stanford Medical School and in the Department of Engineering Economic Systems. Since 1991, Corning has served as the director of the Institute for the Study of Complex Systems and as a founding partner of a private consulting firm in Palo Alto, California.[2]

He was President of the International Society for the Systems Sciences in 1999, and is Treasurer of the International Society for Bioeconomics and a member of the board of directors of the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences. He is also on the board of directors of the Epic of Evolution Society, and has been an actively contributing member of the International Society for Human Ethology, the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, the International Society for Endocytobiology, the European Sociobiological Society, and the International Association for Cybernetics. In 1996, he was also the recipient of a research fellowship in evolutionary biology at the Collegium Budapest, an international institute for advanced study, in Hungary.[2]


Peter Corning's research interests are in the fields bioeconomics, and the research "in greater depth on specific sources and economic consequences of functional synergy in nature and its role in biological and socio-cultural evolution. One area of particular interest is molecular level cybernetic processes. Another concerns the progressive evolution of energy-capturing mechanisms".[3]

Corning is known especially for his work on "the causal role of synergy in evolution. Other work includes a new approach to the relationship between thermodynamics and biology called "thermoeconomics", a new, cybernetic approach to information theory called "control information", and research on basic needs under the "Survival Indicators" Program".[1]


Corning has written seven books and more than 200 research papers and articles over the years. A selection:

Selected Articles:

See also


  1. ^ a b Institute for the Study of Complex Systems Archived 2019-03-21 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 6 June 2008.
  2. ^ a b Peter A. Corning, Ph.D. Director Archived 2008-05-09 at the Wayback Machine, Institute for the Study of Complex Systems 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2008.
  3. ^ Peter A. Corning Collegium Budapest, 1998. Retrieved 6 June 2008.