Computational history of chemistry

Computational history of science involves an interdisciplinary approach to questions of possible pasts, presents and futures of different scientific fields through the use of computational power to process large electronic databases of historical records. This discipline, besides constituting a data-driven approach to history of science, allows pondering new historical questions of a wider scale, for instance the role of social setbacks or the effects of changes in the semiotic system upon evolution of knowledge.

Our research on computational history of chemistry seeks to understand the evolution of chemical knowledge through its formal setting as a dynamical complex system made of the mutual interaction of the material, social and semiotic systems of chemistry. Therefore, we explore the effects of the expansion of the known chemical substances, of politics, economics and ideologies, and of the chemical language upon the evolution of chemical knowledge through a data-driven perspective. This is necessarily an interdisciplinary field of research, where chemists, historians, mathematicians and computer scientists actively collaborate.

So far this research has been conducted by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences, Leipzig University and Richmond University, but we are open to further collaboration with scientists and scholars of other institutions. There are also several research projects available for MSc and PhD students, as well as for postdocs.

Questions related to this research topic can be addressed to Guillermo Restrepo at or


Related sites:

At the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences.

At Max Planck Institute for the History of Science.

At Arizona State University.

At HPS Consortium.