Showing posts with label Stuart Kauffman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stuart Kauffman. Show all posts

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Quantum Computing and Evolution?

The unique capability of quantum mechanics to evolve alternative possibilities in parallel is appealing and over the years a number of quantum algorithms have been developed offering great computational benefits. Systems coupled to the environment lose quantum coherence quickly and realization of schemes based on unitarity might be impossible. Recent discovery of room temperature quantum coherence in light harvesting complexes opens up new possibilities to borrow concepts from biology to use quantum effects for computational purposes. While it has been conjectured that light harvesting complexes such as the Fenna-Matthews-Olson (FMO) complex in the green sulfur bacteria performs an efficient quantum search similar to the quantum Grover's algorithm the analogy has yet to be established. See: Evolutionary Design in Biological Quantum Computing

The Bloch sphere is a representation of a qubit, the fundamental building block of quantum computers.

Quantum Light Harvesting Hints at Entirely New Form of Computing


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Getting Perspective on Time

Time has no independent existence apart from the order of events by which we measure it.Albert Einstein

Currently with the new book written by Lee Smolin about Time, to me, it is a fundamental question about what arises, and,  on how we use time to measure. Also for me,  to ask what relevance time means,  as an emergent product for any beginning.

LEE SMOLIN- Physicist, Perimeter Institute; Author, The Trouble With Physics

Thinking In Time Versus Thinking Outside Of Time

One very old and pervasive habit of thought is to imagine that the true answer to whatever question we are wondering about lies out there in some eternal domain of "timeless truths." The aim of re-search is then to "discover" the answer or solution in that already existing timeless domain. For example, physicists often speak as if the final theory of everything already exists in a vast timeless Platonic space of mathematical objects. This is thinking outside of time. See: WHAT SCIENTIFIC CONCEPT WOULD IMPROVE EVERYBODY'S COGNITIVE TOOLKIT?
 A "scientific concept" may come from philosophy, logic, economics, jurisprudence, or other analytic enterprises, as long as it is a rigorous conceptual tool that may be summed up succinctly (or "in a phrase") but has broad application to understanding the world.

What ignited this question for me goes to a comment I wrote as to what I saw as a precursor to this question for Lee Smolin and others. Further to this, the lessons and explanation Sean Carroll gave toward how we look at time.

Darwinian evolutionary biology is the prototype for thinking in time because at its heart is the realization that natural processes developing in time can lead to the creation of genuinely novel structures. Even novel laws can emerge when the structures to which they apply come to exist. Evolutionary dynamics has no need of abstract and vast spaces like all the possible viable animals, DNA sequences, sets of proteins, or biological laws. Exaptations are too unpredictable and too dependent on the whole suite of living creatures to be analyzed and coded into properties of DNA sequences. Better, as Stuart Kauffman proposes, to think of evolutionary dynamics as the exploration, in time, by the biosphere, of the adjacent possible. See: Thinking In Time Versus Thinking Outside Of Time
While we then become cognoscente of the rules around which parameters have meaning in relation to Time, it was also important to understand that the idea of cross pollination of the sciences recognizes what is brought to the table.

"It is very good that Stu Kauffman and Lee are making this serious attempt to save a notion of time, since I think the issue of timelessness is central to the unification of general relativity with quantum mechanics. The notion of time capsules is still certainly only a conjecture. However, as Lee admits, it has proven very hard to show that the idea is definitely wrong. Moreover, the history of physics has shown that it is often worth taking disconcerting ideas seriously, and I think timelessness is such a one. At the moment, I do not find Lee and Stu's arguments for time threaten my position too strongly."- Julian Barbour

In regard to The Adjacent Possible I was well aware of the implication and parameters  around such thinking to realize that even while applying the trade,  Stuart, was traveling new ground. His thinking is encouraging the flexibility that I am talking about with regard the restrictions one places on them self. I encourage this kind of thinking so as to bolster the lull in scientific advancement to stimulate and foster the idealization of creativity that I think has become stagnate while  moving from one point in the measure to the next. Why Murray Gell-Mann's  move and his expertise is understood in context of new approaches. Simplicity and complexity.

Setting Time Aright

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Origins of Life Question?

Is it more astonishing that a God created all that exists in six days, or that the natural processes of the creative universe have yielded galaxies, chemistry, life, agency, meaning, value, consciousness, culture without a Creator. In my mind and heart, the overwhelming answer is that the truth as best we know it, that all arose with no Creator agent, all on its wondrous own, is so awesome and stunning that it is God enough for me and I hope much of humankind.

The COOL EDGE Workshop was the brainchild of American theoretical biologist and expert in the complexity of biological systems and organisms, Stuart Kauffman. “If we do not organize our field we are in danger of drifting into scattered, uncoordinated groups that make little progress,” said Kauffman in an interview with the CERN Bulletin after the first meeting in 2011. “By coordinating our efforts, we believe we can make more rapid strides.”

“We are happy to share our experience with large-scale collaborations with the life scientists participating in the COOL EDGE Workshop 2013,” says Sergio Bertolucci, director for research and computing who opened the meeting on Tuesday. “The CERN model is an example (and a successful one!) of how large international collaborations can actually work. We are happy if we can also be of help to other communities.” See:
CERN, life science and the origins of life

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The workshop at the CERN meeting focused attention on the metabolism first approach. Both it and the RNA world need exploration. The meeting ended with a proposal to get the research community organized behind a common effort, hopefully benefiting from the experience of CERN in fostering international collaboration.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Fundamentals of Consciousness?

Ian Waldie/Getty Images
Science also lacks even a back-of-the-envelop concept explaining the emergence of consciousness from the behavior of mere matter. We have an elaborate understanding of the ways in which experience depends on neurobiology. But how consciousness arises out of the action of neurons, or how low-level chemical or atomic processes might explain why we are conscious — we haven't a clue.
We aren't even really sure what questions we should be asking.See: Are The Mind And Life Natural? 13.7 and by Alva Noë
I open with reference too, Is There A Place For The Mind In Physics? Part I as it sets up the question that looks as if it will lead to further discussion. Adam Frank will reveal more about, of course realizing this is Part 1, one assumes there should be more.

The basis of discussion seems to center around Thomas Nagel's work so it seems there is a foundational treatment here that is used to bounce off of,  in order to express Adam Frank's position(The truth is, while I deeply suspect he is wrong, I do find his perspective bracing.)He also writes, "Now, as 13.7 readers know, I am no fan of reductionism. In its grandest claims, reductionism tends to be more an affirmation of a faith then a tenable position about ontology (what exists in the world)." 

Okay, so the idea is expressed here then that what I had linked previous of Quantum Consciousness (Stuart Hameroff) and Stuart Kauffman on Beyond Reductionism some question for me about  how such measure could  have existed if the mind did not attempt to define it self as a "measure of something?" Alva sets the bar high by writing, "We aren't even really sure what questions we should be asking."

So there seems to be this group thinking over at 13.7 since Alvae's work on  October 12, 2012 that raises  the subject title presented by Adam Frank. It shows such connections in reference to Thomas Nagel's work. I forgot to include Stuart Kauffman before that in terms of emergent processes, as well as Tania Lombrozo , so you sort of get what I mean by as a "Group Think."

So to begin,  with out argument, consciousness "just is,"  or how else can such awareness exist for any of us of such a discussion? IN that sense the notion of any reductionist versions are not necessary because it would  not need to define parameters around anything other then, "are we aware?" Alva expresses this very nicely by  saying, "But how consciousness arises out of the action of neurons, or how low-level chemical or atomic processes might explain why we are conscious — we haven't a clue." 

So by asking us to impose a vision of a blue monkey, does Adam rank reveal some fundamentalism inference to what exists as a consciousness? I hope to explore more of this as we go along. Can we gain awareness without understanding that  an Observer exists?

Alvae explains it nicely as he askes us to recognize.

 We think we can't explain life, but only because we insist on adhering to a conception of life as vaguely spooky, some sort of vital spirit. And likewise, we think we can't explain consciousness, but again this is because we cling to a conception of consciousness as, well, somehow spiritual, and precisely because we insist on thinking of it as something that floats free of its physical substrates ("a ghost in the machine"), as something essentially interior and private. See: Are The Mind And Life Natural? 13.7 and by Alva Noë
 In a sense it is a call out to scientists to get beyond themselves as  Adam Frank is doing, as well as a call out to others to start to deal with the question with what exists "as is." Experimentally as a physicist I am not sure how a scientist can not be a reductionist. Adam Frank writes,"What if the Mind was something as real as Space and Time and Higgs Bosons?" . It is experimentally necessary to be specific and burdened with proof even if in speculation raised as a question.?

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Stuart Kauffman on Beyond Reductionism

"It is very good that Stu Kauffman and Lee are making this serious attempt to save a notion of time, since I think the issue of timelessness is central to the unification of general relativity with quantum mechanics. The notion of time capsules is still certainly only a conjecture. However, as Lee admits, it has proven very hard to show that the idea is definitely wrong. Moreover, the history of physics has shown that it is often worth taking disconcerting ideas seriously, and I think timelessness is such a one. At the moment, I do not find Lee and Stu's arguments for time threaten my position too strongly."- Julian Barbour


Is it more astonishing that a God created all that exists in six days, or that the natural processes of the creative universe have yielded galaxies, chemistry, life, agency, meaning, value, consciousness, culture without a Creator. In my mind and heart, the overwhelming answer is that the truth as best we know it, that all arose with no Creator agent, all on its wondrous own, is so awesome and stunning that it is God enough for me and I hope much of humankind.

Stuart Alan Kauffman (28 September 1939) is an US American theoretical biologist and complex systems researcher concerning the origin of life on Earth. He is best known for arguing that the complexity of biological systems and organisms might result as much from self-organization and far-from-equilibrium dynamics as from Darwinian natural selection, as well as for proposing the first models of Boolean networks.

Kauffman presently holds a joint appointment at the University of Calgary in Biological Sciences and in Physics and Astronomy, and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Philosophy. He is also an iCORE (Informatics Research Circle of Excellence) [1] chair and the director of the Institute for Biocomplexity and Informatics.


See:Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion (Hardcover)

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Synapse of the Wondering Mind

Click here for Penrose's Seminar

While trying to organize my thoughts about the title of this blog entry, it becomes apparent to me that the potential of neurological transposition of electrical pulses is part of the function of the physical system in order to operate, while I am thinking something much different.

It is the idea of our being receptive too something more then a signal transfer within the physical system of pathways established through repetitive use, but also the finding of that location, to receive.It is one where we can accept something into ourselves as information from another. As accepting information from around us. Information is energy?


Structure of a typical chemical synapse
In the nervous system, a synapse is a junction that permits a neuron to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another cell. The word "synapse" comes from "synaptein", which Sir Charles Scott Sherrington and colleagues coined from the Greek "syn-" ("together") and "haptein" ("to clasp").

Synapses are essential to neuronal function: neurons are cells that are specialized to pass signals to individual target cells, and synapses are the means by which they do so. At a synapse, the plasma membrane of the signal-passing neuron (the presynaptic neuron) comes into close apposition with the membrane of the target (postsynaptic) cell. Both the presynaptic and postsynaptic sites contain extensive arrays of molecular machinery that link the two membranes together and carry out the signaling process. In many synapses, the presynaptic part is located on an axon, but some presynaptic sites are located on a dendrite or soma.
There are two fundamentally different types of synapse:
  • In a chemical synapse, the presynaptic neuron releases a chemical called a neurotransmitter that binds to receptors located in the postsynaptic cell, usually embedded in the plasma membrane. Binding of the neurotransmitter to a receptor can affect the postsynaptic cell in a wide variety of ways.
  • In an electrical synapse, the presynaptic and postsynaptic cell membranes are connected by channels that are capable of passing electrical current, causing voltage changes in the presynaptic cell to induce voltage changes in the postsynaptic cell.


The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Argument in Quantum Theory

First published Mon May 10, 2004; substantive revision Wed Aug 5, 2009

In the May 15, 1935 issue of Physical Review Albert Einstein co-authored a paper with his two postdoctoral research associates at the Institute for Advanced Study, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen. The article was entitled “Can Quantum Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete?” (Einstein et al. 1935). Generally referred to as “EPR”, this paper quickly became a centerpiece in the debate over the interpretation of the quantum theory, a debate that continues today. The paper features a striking case where two quantum systems interact in such a way as to link both their spatial coordinates in a certain direction and also their linear momenta (in the same direction). As a result of this “entanglement”, determining either position or momentum for one system would fix (respectively) the position or the momentum of the other. EPR use this case to argue that one cannot maintain both an intuitive condition of local action and the completeness of the quantum description by means of the wave function. This entry describes the argument of that 1935 paper, considers several different versions and reactions, and explores the ongoing significance of the issues they raise. See Also:Historical Figures Lead Us to the Topic of Entanglement
When looking at Penrose's seminar and you have clicked on the image, the idea presented itself to me that if one was to seek "a method by determination" I might express color of gravity as a exchange in principle as if spooky action at a distance, as an expression of a representative example of colorimetric expressions.

Science and TA by Chris Boyd
Do we selectively ignore other models from artificial intelligence such as Zadeh's Fuzzy Logic? This is a logic used to model perception and used in newly designed "smart" cameras. Where standard logic must give a true or false value to every proposition, fuzzy logic assigns a certainty value between zero and one to each of the propositions, so that we say a statement is .7 true and .3 false. Is this theory selectively ignored to support our theories?

Here fuzzy logic and TA had served in principal to show orders between "O and 1" as potentials of connection between the source of exchange between those two individuals. I see "cryptography" as an example of this determination  as a defined state of reductionism through that exchange.

Stuart Kauffman raises his own philosophical ideas in "Beyond Einstein and Schrodinger? The Quantum Mechanics of Closed Quantum Systems" about such things,  that lead to further  ideas on his topic, has blocked my comments there, so I see no use in further participating and offering ideas for his efforts toward "data mining" with regard to his biological methods to determination.

I can say it has sparked further interest in my own assessment of "seeking to understand color of gravity" as a method to determination,  as a state of deduction orientation, that we might get from a self evidential result from exchange,  as a "cause of determination" as to our futures.

While I have listed here between two individuals these thoughts also act as "an antennae" toward a universal question of "what one asks shall in some form be answered."

Not just a "blank slate" but one with something written on it. What design then predates physical expression, as if one could now define the human spirit and character, as  the soul in constant expression through materiality? An "evolution of spirit" then making manifest our progressions, as leading from one position to another.

See Also:

The Synapse is a Portal of the Thinking Mind

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Colour of Gravity 3

Colour measurement

We know that colour is a psychophysical experience of an observer which changes from observer to observer and is therefore impossible to replicate absolutely. In order to quantify colour in meaningful terms we must be able to measure or represent the three attributes that together give a model of colour perception. i.e. light, object and the eye. All these attributes have been standardised by the CIE or Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage.

The colours of the clothes we wear and the textiles we use in our homes must be monitored to ensure that they are correct and consistent.

Colour measurement is therefore essential to put numbers to colour in order to remove physical samples and the interpretation of results.
See:Colour measuring equipment


A New Culture?


Colour Space and Colour Theory

So by having defined the "frame of reference," and by introducing "Colour of gravity" I thought it important and consistent with the science to reveal how dynamical any point within that reference can become expressive. The history in association also important.


See Also:

Cymatics and the Heart Song

We might object that the heart makes heart sounds and jiggles water in the pericardial sac. Stuart Kauffman

The Colour of Gravity2
The Colour of Gravity1

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Cosmic Evolution and the Powers of Ten

Many physical quantities span vast ranges of magnitude. Figures 0.1 and 0.2 use images to indicate the range of lengths and times that are of importance in physics.


Why Is The Universe Complex? Broken Symmetries, Information, Energy,  Work
Next, step: Where to asymmetric crystals and other things come from? By breaking symmetries. The universe started highly symmetric. So for assymetries to arise, those initial symmetries must have been, and even today, continue to be broken.
I want next to show that broken symmetries, absolutely natural in physics, biology, economics, cultural evolution, can arise spontaneously, and become new sources of free energy by which work can be done. But work per unit time is power hence a first step to Chaisson’s increasing power density per gram universe over time.Stuart Kauffman-

The Rise of Complexity in Nature

Cosmic Evolution: From Big Bang to Human Kind

Monday, July 05, 2010



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Self-organization is the process where a structure or pattern appears in a system without a central authority or external element imposing it. This globally coherent pattern appears from the local interaction of the elements that makes up the system, thus the organization is achieved in a way that is parallel (all the elements act at the same time) and distributed (no element is a coordinator).



The most robust and unambiguous examples[1] of self-organizing systems are from the physics of non-equilibrium processes. Self-organization is also relevant in chemistry, where it has often been taken as being synonymous with self-assembly. The concept of self-organization is central to the description of biological systems, from the subcellular to the ecosystem level. There are also cited examples of "self-organizing" behaviour found in the literature of many other disciplines, both in the natural sciences and the social sciences such as economics or anthropology. Self-organization has also been observed in mathematical systems such as cellular automata.
Sometimes the notion of self-organization is conflated with that of the related concept of emergence.[citation needed] Properly defined, however, there may be instances of self-organization without emergence and emergence without self-organization, and it is clear from the literature that the phenomena are not the same. The link between emergence and self-organization remains an active research question.
Self-organization usually relies on four basic ingredients [2]:
  1. Strong dynamical non-linearity, often though not necessarily involving Positive feedback and Negative feedback
  2. Balance of exploitation and exploration
  3. Multiple interactions

History of the idea

The idea that the dynamics of a system can tend by themselves to increase the inherent order of a system has a long history. One of the earliest statements of this idea was by the philosopher Descartes, in the fifth part of his Discourse on Method, where he presents it hypothetically.[citation needed] Descartes further elaborated on the idea at great length in his unpublished work The World.
The ancient atomists (among others) believed that a designing intelligence was unnecessary, arguing that given enough time and space and matter, organization was ultimately inevitable, although there would be no preferred tendency for this to happen. What Descartes introduced was the idea that the ordinary laws of nature tend to produce organization [citation needed] (For related history, see Aram Vartanian, Diderot and Descartes).
Beginning with the 18th century naturalists, a movement arose that sought to understand the "universal laws of form" in order to explain the observed forms of living organisms. Because of its association with Lamarckism, their ideas fell into disrepute until the early 20th century, when pioneers such as D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson revived them. The modern understanding is that there are indeed universal laws (arising from fundamental physics and chemistry) that govern growth and form in biological systems.
Originally, the term "self-organizing" was used by Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Judgment, where he argued that teleology is a meaningful concept only if there exists such an entity whose parts or "organs" are simultaneously ends and means. Such a system of organs must be able to behave as if it has a mind of its own, that is, it is capable of governing itself.
In such a natural product as this every part is thought as owing its presence to the agency of all the remaining parts, and also as existing for the sake of the others and of the whole, that is as an instrument, or organ... The part must be an organ producing the other parts—each, consequently, reciprocally producing the others... Only under these conditions and upon these terms can such a product be an organized and self-organized being, and, as such, be called a physical end.
The term "self-organizing" was introduced to contemporary science in 1947 by the psychiatrist and engineer W. Ross Ashby[3]. It was taken up by the cyberneticians Heinz von Foerster, Gordon Pask, Stafford Beer and Norbert Wiener himself in the second edition of his "Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine" (MIT Press 1961).
Self-organization as a word and concept was used by those associated with general systems theory in the 1960s, but did not become commonplace in the scientific literature until its adoption by physicists and researchers in the field of complex systems in the 1970s and 1980s.[4] After 1977's Ilya Prigogine Nobel Prize, the thermodynamic concept of self-organization received some attention of the public, and scientific researchers start to migrate from the cybernetic view to the thermodynamic view.


The following list summarizes and classifies the instances of self-organization found in different disciplines. As the list grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine whether these phenomena are all fundamentally the same process, or the same label applied to several different processes. Self-organization, despite its intuitive simplicity as a concept, has proven notoriously difficult to define and pin down formally or mathematically, and it is entirely possible that any precise definition might not include all the phenomena to which the label has been applied.
It should also be noted that, the farther a phenomenon is removed from physics, the more controversial the idea of self-organization as understood by physicists becomes. Also, even when self-organization is clearly present, attempts at explaining it through physics or statistics are usually criticized as reductionistic.
Similarly, when ideas about self-organization originate in, say, biology or social science, the farther one tries to take the concept into chemistry, physics or mathematics, the more resistance is encountered, usually on the grounds that it implies direction in fundamental physical processes. However the tendency of hot bodies to get cold (see Thermodynamics) and by Le Chatelier's Principle- the statistical mechanics extension of Newton's Third Law- to oppose this tendency should be noted.

Self-organization in physics

Convection cells in a gravity field
There are several broad classes of physical processes that can be described as self-organization. Such examples from physics include:
  • self-organizing dynamical systems: complex systems made up of small, simple units connected to each other usually exhibit self-organization

  • In spin foam system and loop quantum gravity that was proposed by Lee Smolin. The main idea is that the evolution of space in time should be robust in general. Any fine-tuning of cosmological parameters weaken the independency of the fundamental theory. Philosophically, it can be assumed that in the early time, there has not been any agent to tune the cosmological parameters. Smolin and his colleagues in a series of works show that, based on the loop quantization of spacetime, in the very early time, a simple evolutionary model (similar to the sand pile model) behaves as a power law distribution on both the size and area of avalanche.

    • Although, this model, which is restricted only on the frozen spin networks, exhibits a non-stationary expansion of the universe. However, it is the first serious attempt toward the final ambitious goal of determining the cosmic expansion and inflation based on a self-organized criticality theory in which the parameters are not tuned, but instead are determined from within the complex system.[5]

Self-organization vs. entropy

Statistical mechanics informs us that large scale phenomena can be viewed as a large system of small interacting particles, whose processes are assumed consistent with well established mechanical laws such as entropy, i.e., equilibrium thermodynamics. However, “… following the macroscopic point of view the same physical media can be thought of as continua whose properties of evolution are given by phenomenological laws between directly measurable quantities on our scale, such as, for example, the pressure, the temperature, or the concentrations of the different components of the media. The macroscopic perspective is of interest because of its greater simplicity of formalism and because it is often the only view practicable.” Against this background, Glansdorff and Ilya Prigogine introduced a deeper view at the microscopic level, where “… the principles of thermodynamics explicitly make apparent the concept of irreversibility and along with it the concept of dissipation and temporal orientation which were ignored by classical (or quantum) dynamics, where the time appears as a simple parameter and the trajectories are entirely reversible.”[6]
As a result, processes considered part of thermodynamically open systems, such as biological processes that are constantly receiving, transforming and dissipating chemical energy (and even the earth itself which is constantly receiving and dissipating solar energy), can and do exhibit properties of self organization far from thermodynamic equilibrium.
A laser can also be characterized as a self organized system to the extent that normal states of thermal equilibrium characterized by electromagnetic energy absorption are stimulated out of equilibrium in a reverse of the absorption process. “If the matter can be forced out of thermal equilibrium to a sufficient degree, so that the upper state has a higher population than the lower state (population inversion), then more stimulated emission than absorption occurs, leading to coherent growth (amplification or gain) of the electromagnetic wave at the transition frequency.”[7]

Self-organization in chemistry

The DNA structure at left (schematic shown) will self-assemble into the structure visualized by atomic force microscopy at right. Image from Strong.[8]
Self-organization in chemistry includes:
  1. molecular self-assembly
  2. reaction-diffusion systems and oscillating chemical reactions
  3. autocatalytic networks (see: autocatalytic set)
  4. liquid crystals
  5. colloidal crystals
  6. self-assembled monolayers
  7. micelles
  8. microphase separation of block copolymers
  9. Langmuir-Blodgett films

Self-organization in biology

Birds flocking, an example of self-organization in biology
According to Scott Camazine.. [et al.]:
In biological systems self-organization is a process in which pattern at the global level of a system emerges solely from numerous interactions among the lower-level components of the system. Moreover, the rules specifying interactions among the system's components are executed using only local information, without reference to the global pattern.[9]
The following is an incomplete list of the diverse phenomena which have been described as self-organizing in biology.
  1. spontaneous folding of proteins and other biomacromolecules
  2. formation of lipid bilayer membranes
  3. homeostasis (the self-maintaining nature of systems from the cell to the whole organism)
  4. pattern formation and morphogenesis, or how the living organism develops and grows. See also embryology.
  5. the coordination of human movement, e.g. seminal studies of bimanual coordination by Kelso
  6. the creation of structures by social animals, such as social insects (bees, ants, termites), and many mammals
  7. flocking behaviour (such as the formation of flocks by birds, schools of fish, etc.)
  8. the origin of life itself from self-organizing chemical systems, in the theories of hypercycles and autocatalytic networks
  9. the organization of Earth's biosphere in a way that is broadly conducive to life (according to the controversial Gaia hypothesis)

Self-organization in mathematics and computer science

Gosper's Glider Gun creating "gliders" in the cellular automaton Conway's Game of Life.[10]
As mentioned above, phenomena from mathematics and computer science such as cellular automata, random graphs, and some instances of evolutionary computation and artificial life exhibit features of self-organization. In swarm robotics, self-organization is used to produce emergent behavior. In particular the theory of random graphs has been used as a justification for self-organization as a general principle of complex systems. In the field of multi-agent systems, understanding how to engineer systems that are capable of presenting self-organized behavior is a very active research area.

Self-organization in cybernetics

Wiener regarded the automatic serial identification of a black box and its subsequent reproduction as sufficient to meet the condition of self-organization.[11] The importance of phase locking or the "attraction of frequencies", as he called it, is discussed in the 2nd edition of his "Cybernetics".[12] Drexler sees self-replication as a key step in nano and universal assembly.
By contrast, the four concurrently connected galvanometers of W. Ross Ashby's Homeostat hunt, when perturbed, to converge on one of many possible stable states.[13] Ashby used his state counting measure of variety[14] to describe stable states and produced the "Good Regulator"[15] theorem which requires internal models for self-organized endurance and stability.
Warren McCulloch proposed "Redundancy of Potential Command"[16] as characteristic of the organization of the brain and human nervous system and the necessary condition for self-organization.
Heinz von Foerster proposed Redundancy, R = 1- H/Hmax , where H is entropy.[17] In essence this states that unused potential communication bandwidth is a measure of self-organization.
In the 1970s Stafford Beer considered this condition as necessary for autonomy which identifies self-organization in persisting and living systems. Using Variety analyses he applied his neurophysiologically derived recursive Viable System Model to management. It consists of five parts: the monitoring of performance[18] of the survival processes (1), their management by recursive application of regulation (2), homeostatic operational control (3) and development (4) which produce maintenance of identity (5) under environmental perturbation. Focus is prioritized by an "algedonic loop" feedback:[19] a sensitivity to both pain and pleasure.
In the 1990s Gordon Pask pointed out von Foerster's H and Hmax were not independent and interacted via countably infinite recursive concurrent spin processes[20] (he favoured the Bohm interpretation) which he called concepts (liberally defined in any medium, "productive and, incidentally reproductive"). His strict definition of concept "a procedure to bring about a relation"[21] permitted his theorem "Like concepts repel, unlike concepts attract"[22] to state a general spin based Principle of Self-organization. His edict, an exclusion principle, "There are No Doppelgangers"[23] means no two concepts can be the same (all interactions occur with different perspectives making time incommensurable for actors). This means, after sufficient duration as differences assert, all concepts will attract and coalesce as pink noise and entropy increases (and see Big Crunch, self-organized criticality). The theory is applicable to all organizationally closed or homeostatic processes that produce endurance and coherence (also in the sense of Reshcher Coherence Theory of Truth with the proviso that the sets and their members exert repulsive forces at their boundaries) through interactions: evolving, learning and adapting.
Pask's Interactions of actors "hard carapace" model is reflected in some of the ideas of emergence and coherence. It requires a knot emergence topology that produces radiation during interaction with a unit cell that has a prismatic tensegrity structure. Laughlin's contribution to emergence reflects some of these constraints.

Self-organization in human society

Social self-organization in international drug routes
The self-organizing behaviour of social animals and the self-organization of simple mathematical structures both suggest that self-organization should be expected in human society. Tell-tale signs of self-organization are usually statistical properties shared with self-organizing physical systems (see Zipf's law, power law, Pareto principle). Examples such as Critical mass (sociodynamics), herd behaviour, groupthink and others, abound in sociology, economics, behavioral finance and anthropology.[24]
In social theory the concept of self-referentiality has been introduced as a sociological application of self-organization theory by Niklas Luhmann (1984). For Luhmann the elements of a social system are self-producing communications, i.e. a communication produces further communications and hence a social system can reproduce itself as long as there is dynamic communication. For Luhmann human beings are sensors in the environment of the system.{p410 Social System 1995} Luhmann developed an evolutionary theory of Society and its subsytems, using functional analyses and systems theory. {Social Systems 1995}.
Self-organization in human and computer networks can give rise to a decentralized, distributed, self-healing system, protecting the security of the actors in the network by limiting the scope of knowledge of the entire system held by each individual actor. The Underground Railroad is a good example of this sort of network. The networks that arise from drug trafficking exhibit similar self-organizing properties. Parallel examples exist in the world of privacy-preserving computer networks such as Tor. In each case, the network as a whole exhibits distinctive synergistic behavior through the combination of the behaviors of individual actors in the network. Usually the growth of such networks is fueled by an ideology or sociological force that is adhered to or shared by all participants in the network.[original research?][citation needed]

In economics

In economics, a market economy is sometimes said to be self-organizing. Paul Krugman has written on the role that market self-organization plays in the business cycle in his book "The Self Organizing Economy"[25]. Friedrich Hayek coined the term catallaxy to describe a "self-organizing system of voluntary co-operation," in regard to capitalism. Most modern economists hold that imposing central planning usually makes the self-organized economic system less efficient. By contrast, some socialist economists consider that market failures are so significant that self-organization produces bad results and that the state should direct production and pricing. Many economists adopt an intermediate position and recommend a mixture of market economy and command economy characteristics (sometimes called a mixed economy). When applied to economics, the concept of self-organization can quickly become ideologically-imbued (as explained in chapter 5 of A. Marshall, The Unity of Nature, Imperial College Press, 2002).

In collective intelligence

Visualization of links between pages on a wiki. This is an example of collective intelligence through collaborative editing.
Non-thermodynamic concepts of entropy and self-organization have been explored by many theorists. Cliff Joslyn and colleagues and their so-called "global brain" projects. Marvin Minsky's "Society of Mind" and the no-central editor in charge policy of the open sourced internet encyclopedia, called Wikipedia, are examples of applications of these principles - see collective intelligence.
Donella Meadows, who codified twelve leverage points that a self-organizing system could exploit to organize itself, was one of a school of theorists who saw human creativity as part of a general process of adapting human lifeways to the planet and taking humans out of conflict with natural processes. See Gaia philosophy, deep ecology, ecology movement and Green movement for similar self-organizing ideals. (The connections between self-organisation and Gaia theory and the environmental movement are explored in A. Marshall, 2002, The Unity of Nature, Imperial College Press: London).

Self-organization in linguistics

Self-organization refers to a property by which complex systems spontaneously generate organized structures"[26].[Full citation needed] It is the spontaneous formation of well organized structures, patterns, or behaviors, from random initial conditions. It is the process of macroscopic outcomes emerging from local interactions of components of the system, but the global organizational properties are not to be found at the local level. The systems used to study this phenomenon are referred to as dynamical systems: state-determined systems. They possess a large number of elements or variables, and thus very large state spaces.
Traditional framework of good science is Reductionism, in the sense that sub-parts are studied individually to understand the bigger part. However, many natural systems cannot simply be explained by a reductionist study of their parts. Self-organization is not studying the whole structure by breaking it down to smaller sub-parts which are then studied individually. The emphasis of the “self-organization” is, rather, the process of how a super macro global structure evolves from local interactions.
"The self that gets organized should not be just the language ability but the cluster of competencies through which it emerges. These probably include a variety of cognitive, social, affective, and motor skills."[27][Full citation needed] The human brains, and thus the phenomena of sensation and thought, are also under the strong influence of features of spontaneous organization in their structure. Indeed, the brain, composed of billions of neurons dynamically interacting among themselves and with the outside world, is the prototype of a complex system. A good example of self organization in linguistics is the evolution of Nicaraguan Sign Language. Examples of linguistic questions in the light of self organization are: e.g. the decentralized generation of lexical and semantic conventions in populations of agents.[28][Full citation needed][29][Full citation needed];the formation of conventionalized syntactic structures[30];[Full citation needed] the conditions under which combinatoriality, the property of systematic reuse, can be selected[31];[Full citation needed] shared inventories of vowels or syllables in groups of agents, with features of structural regularities greatly resembling those of human languages[32][Full citation needed][33][Full citation needed]


In many complex systems in nature, there are global phenomena that are the irreducible result of local interactions between components whose individual study would not allow us to see the global properties of the whole combined system. Thus, a growing number of researchers think that many properties of language are not directly encoded by any of the components involved, but are the self-organized outcomes of the interactions of the components.
Building mathematical models in the context of research into language origins and the evolution of languages is enjoying growing popularity in the scientific community, because it is a crucial tool for studying the phenomena of language in relation to the complex interactions of its components. These systems are put to two main types of use: 1) they serve to evaluate the internal coherence of verbally expressed theories already proposed by clarifying all their hypotheses and verifying that they do indeed lead to the proposed conclusions ; 2) they serve to explore and generate new theories, which themselves often appear when one simply tries to build an artificial system reproducing the verbal behavior of humans.
Therefore, constructing operational models to test hypothesis in linguistics is gaining popularity these days. An operational model is one which defines the set of its assumptions explicitly and above all shows how to calculate their consequences, that is, to prove that they lead to a certain set of conclusions.

[edit] In the emergence of language

The emergence of language in the human species has been described in a game-theoretic framework based on a model of senders and receivers of information (Clark 2009[34], following Skyrms 2004[35]).[Full citation needed] The evolution of certain properties of language such as inference follow from this sort of framework (with the parameters stating that information transmitted can be partial or redundant, and the underlying assumption that the sender and receiver each want to take the action in his/her best interest) [36].[Full citation needed] Likewise, models have shown that compositionality, a central component of human language, emerges dynamically during linguistic evolution, and need not be introduced by biological evolution (Kirby 2000)[37].[Full citation needed] Tomasello (1999)[38][Full citation needed] argues that through one evolutionary step, the ability to sustain culture, the groundwork for the evolution of human language was laid. The ability to ratchet cultural advances cumulatively allowed for the complex development of human cognition unseen in other animals.

[edit] In language acquisition

Within a species' ontogeny, the acquisition of language has also been shown to self-organize. Through the ability to see others as intentional agents (theory of mind), and actions such as 'joint attention,' human children have the scaffolding they need to learn the language of those around them (Tomasello 1999)[39].[Full citation needed]

In articulatory phonology

Articulatory phonology takes the approach that speech production consists of a coordinated series of gestures, called 'constellations,' which are themselves dynamical systems. In this theory, linguistic contrast comes from the distinction between such gestural units, which can be described on a low-dimensional level in the abstract. However, these structures are necessarily context-dependent in real-time production. Thus the context-dependence emerges naturally from the dynamical systems themselves. This statement is controversial, however, as it suggests a universal phonetics which is not evident across languages[40]. Cross-linguistic patterns show that what can be treated as the same gestural units produce different contextualised patterns in different languages[41]. Articulatory Phonology fails to attend to the acoustic output of the gestures themselves (meaning that many typological patterns remain unexplained)[42]. Freedom among listeners in the weighting of perceptual cues in the acoustic signal has a more fundamental role to play in the emergence of structure[43]. The realization of the perceptual contrasts by means of articulatory movements means that articulatory considerations do play a role[44], but these are purely secondary.

In diachrony and synchrony

Several mathematical models of language change rely on self-organizing or dynamical systems. Abrams and Strogatz (2003)[45][Full citation needed] produced a model of language change that focused on “language death” - the process by which a speech community merges into the surrounding speech communities. Nakamura et al. (2008)[46][Full citation needed] proposed a variant of this model that incorporates spatial dynamics into language contact transactions in order to describe the emergence of creoles. Both of these models proceed from the assumption that language change, like any self-organizing system, is a large-scale act or entity (in this case the creation or death of a language, or changes in its boundaries) that emerges from many actions on a micro-level. The microlevel in this example is the everyday production and comprehension of language by speakers in areas of language contact.

See also


  1. ^ Glansdorff, P., Prigogine, I. (1971). Thermodynamic Theory of Structure, Stability and Fluctuations, Wiley-Interscience, London. ISBN 0471302805
  2. ^ Eric. Bonabeau, Marco Dorigo, and Guy Theraulaz (1999). Swarm intelligence: from natural to artificial systems. pp.9-11.
  3. ^ Ashby, W.R., (1947): Principles of the Self-Organizing Dynamic System, In: Journal of General Psychology 1947. volume 37, pages 125--128
  4. ^ As an indication of the increasing importance of this concept, when queried with the keyword self-organ*, Dissertation Abstracts finds nothing before 1954, and only four entries before 1970. There were 17 in the years 1971--1980; 126 in 1981--1990; and 593 in 1991--2000.
  5. ^ Self-organized theory in quantum gravity
  6. ^ “Thermodynamics, Nonequilibrium,” Glansdorff, P. & Prigogine, I. The Encyclopedia of Physics, Second Edition, edited by Lerner, R. and Trigg, G., VCH Publishers, 1991. Pp. 1256-1262.
  7. ^ “Lasers,” Zeiger, H.J. and Kelley, P.L. The Encyclopedia of Physics, Second Edition, edited by Lerner, R. and Trigg, G., VCH Publishers, 1991. Pp. 614-619.
  8. ^ M. Strong (2004). "Protein Nanomachines". PLoS Biol. 2 (3): e73-e74. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020073. 
  9. ^ Camazine, Deneubourg, Franks, Sneyd, Theraulaz, Bonabeau, Self-Organization in Biological Systems, Princeton University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-691-11624-5 --ISBN 0-691-01211-3 (pbk.) p. 8
  10. ^ Daniel Dennett (1995), Darwin's Dangerous Idea, Penguin Books, London, ISBN 978-0-14-016734-4, ISBN 0-14-016734-X
  11. ^ The mathematics of self-organising systems. Recent developments in information and decision processes, Macmillan, N. Y., 1962.
  12. ^ Cybernetics, or control and communication in the animal and the machine, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass. and Wiley, N.Y., 1948. 2nd Edition 1962 "Chapter X "Brain Waves and Self-Organizing Systems"pp 201-202.
  13. ^ "Design for a Brain" Chapter 5 Chapman & Hall (1952) and "An Introduction to Cybernetics" Chapman & Hall (1956)
  14. ^ "An Introduction to Cybernetics" Part Two Chapman & Hall (1956)
  15. ^ Conant and Ashby Int. J. Systems Sci., 1970, vol 1, No 2, pp89-97 and in "Mechanisms of Intelligence" ed Roger Conant Intersystems Publications (1981)
  16. ^ "Embodiments of Mind MIT Press (1965)"
  17. ^ "A Predictive Model for Self-Organizing Systems", Part I: Cybernetica 3, pp. 258–300; Part II: Cybernetica 4, pp. 20–55, 1961 with Gordon Pask.
  18. ^ "Brain of the Firm" Alan Lane (1972) see also Viable System Model also in "Beyond Dispute " Wiley Stafford Beer 1994 "Redundancy of Potential Command" pp157-158.
  19. ^ see "Brain.." and "Beyond Dispute"
  20. ^ * 1996, Heinz von Foerster's Self-Organisation, the Progenitor of Conversation and Interaction Theories, Systems Research (1996) 13, 3, pp. 349-362
  21. ^ "Conversation, Cognition and Learning" Elesevier (1976) see Glossary.
  22. ^ "On Gordon Pask" Nick Green in "Gordon Pask remembered and celebrated: Part I" Kybernetes 30, 5/6, 2001 p 676 (a.k.a. Pask's self-described "Last Theorem")
  23. ^ proof para. 188 Pask (1992) and postulates 15-18 in Pask (1996)
  24. ^ Interactive models
  25. ^ "The Self Organizing Economy". 1996.
  26. ^ de Boer, B, 1998
  27. ^ Wimsatt, p. 232, Cycles of Contingency
  28. ^ Steels, 1997
  29. ^ Kaplan, 2001
  30. ^ Batali, 1998
  31. ^ Kirby, 1998
  32. ^ de Boer, 2001
  33. ^ Oudeyer, 2001
  34. ^ Clark 2009
  35. ^ Skyrms 2004
  36. ^ (Skyrms 2004)
  37. ^ Kirby 2000
  38. ^ Tomasello (1999)
  39. ^ Tomasello 1999
  40. ^ Sole, M-J. (1992). "Phonetic and phonological processes: nasalization." Language & Speech 35: 29-43
  41. ^ Ladefoged, Peter (2003). "Commentary: some thoughts on syllables - an old-fashioned interlude." In Local, John, Richard Ogden & Ros Temple (eds.). Papers in laboratory Phonology VICambridge University Press: 269-276.
  42. ^ see papers in Phonetica 49, 1992, special issue on Articulatory Phonology
  43. ^ Ohala, John J. (1996) "Speech perception is hearing sounds, not tongues." Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 99: 1718-1725.
  44. ^ Lindblom, B. (1999). "Emergent phonology.", doi=
  45. ^ Abrams and Strogatz (2003)
  46. ^ Nakamura et al. (2008)

Further reading

  • W. Ross Ashby (1947), "Principles of the Self-Organizing Dynamic System", Journal of General Psychology Vol 37, pp. 125–128.
  • W. Ross Ashby (1966), Design for a Brain, Chapman & Hall, 2nd edition.
  • Per Bak (1996), How Nature Works: The Science of Self-Organized Criticality, Copernicus Books.
  • Philip Ball (1999), The Self-Made Tapestry: Pattern Formation in Nature, Oxford University Press.
  • Stafford Beer, Self-organization as autonomy: Brain of the Firm 2nd edition Wiley 1981 and Beyond Dispute Wiley 1994.
  • A. Bejan (2000), Shape and Structure, from Engineering to Nature , Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 324 pp.
  • Mark Buchanan (2002), Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of Networks W. W. Norton & Company.
  • Scott Camazine, Jean-Louis Deneubourg, Nigel R. Franks, James Sneyd, Guy Theraulaz, & Eric Bonabeau (2001) Self-Organization in Biological Systems, Princeton Univ Press.
  • Falko Dressler (2007), Self-Organization in Sensor and Actor Networks, Wiley & Sons.
  • Manfred Eigen and Peter Schuster (1979), The Hypercycle: A principle of natural self-organization, Springer.
  • Myrna Estep (2003), A Theory of Immediate Awareness: Self-Organization and Adaptation in Natural Intelligence, Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • Myrna L. Estep (2006), Self-Organizing Natural Intelligence: Issues of Knowing, Meaning, and Complexity, Springer-Verlag.
  • J. Doyne Farmer et al. (editors) (1986), "Evolution, Games, and Learning: Models for Adaptation in Machines and Nature", in: Physica D, Vol 22.
  • Heinz von Foerster and George W. Zopf, Jr. (eds.) (1962), Principles of Self-Organization (Sponsored by Information Systems Branch, U.S. Office of Naval Research.
  • "Aeshchines" (false identity made in reference to the classical Greek orator Aeschines) (2007). "The Open Source Manifesto" the self organization of economic and geopolitical structure through the Open Source movement permanent link at
  • Carlos Gershenson and Francis Heylighen (2003). "When Can we Call a System Self-organizing?" In Banzhaf, W, T. Christaller, P. Dittrich, J. T. Kim, and J. Ziegler, Advances in Artificial Life, 7th European Conference, ECAL 2003, Dortmund, Germany, pp. 606–614. LNAI 2801. Springer.
  • Hermann Haken (1983) Synergetics: An Introduction. Nonequilibrium Phase Transition and Self-Organization in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, Third Revised and Enlarged Edition, Springer-Verlag.
  • F.A. Hayek Law, Legislation and Liberty, RKP, UK.
  • Francis Heylighen (2001): "The Science of Self-organization and Adaptivity".
  • Henrik Jeldtoft Jensen (1998), Self-Organized Criticality: Emergent Complex Behaviour in Physical and Biological Systems, Cambridge Lecture Notes in Physics 10, Cambridge University Press.
  • Steven Berlin Johnson (2001), Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software.
  • Stuart Kauffman (1995), At Home in the Universe, Oxford University Press.
  • Stuart Kauffman (1993), Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution Oxford University Press.
  • J. A. Scott Kelso (1995), Dynamic Patterns: The self-organization of brain and behavior, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
  • J. A. Scott Kelso & David A Engstrom (2006), "The Complementary Nature", The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
  • Alex Kentsis (2004), Self-organization of biological systems: Protein folding and supramolecular assembly, Ph.D. Thesis, New York University.
  • E.V.Krishnamurthy(2009)," Multiset of Agents in a Network for Simulation of Complex Systems", in "Recent advances in Nonlinear Dynamics and synchronization, ,(NDS-1) -Theory and applications, Springer Verlag, New York,2009. Eds. K.Kyamakya et al.
  • Paul Krugman (1996), The Self-Organizing Economy, Cambridge, Mass., and Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
  • Niklas Luhmann (1995) Social Systems. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
  • Elizabeth McMillan (2004) "Complexity, Organizations and Change".
  • Marshall, A (2002) The Unity of Nature, Imperial College Press: London (esp. chapter 5)
  • Müller, J.-A., Lemke, F. (2000), Self-Organizing Data Mining.
  • Gregoire Nicolis and Ilya Prigogine (1977) Self-Organization in Non-Equilibrium Systems, Wiley.
  • Heinz Pagels (1988), The Dreams of Reason: The Computer and the Rise of the Sciences of Complexity, Simon & Schuster.
  • Gordon Pask (1961), The cybernetics of evolutionary processes and of self organizing systems, 3rd. International Congress on Cybernetics, Namur, Association Internationale de Cybernetique.
  • Gordon Pask (1993) Interactions of Actors (IA), Theory and Some Applications, Download incomplete 90 page manuscript.
  • Gordon Pask (1996) Heinz von Foerster's Self-Organisation, the Progenitor of Conversation and Interaction Theories, Systems Research (1996) 13, 3, pp. 349–362
  • Christian Prehofer ea. (2005), "Self-Organization in Communication Networks: Principles and Design Paradigms", in: IEEE Communications Magazine, July 2005.
  • Mitchell Resnick (1994), Turtles, Termites and Traffic Jams: Explorations in Massively Parallel Microworlds, Complex Adaptive Systems series, MIT Press.
  • Lee Smolin (1997), The Life of the Cosmos Oxford University Press.
  • Ricard V. Solé and Brian C. Goodwin (2001), Signs of Life: How Complexity Pervades Biology, Basic Books.
  • Ricard V. Solé and Jordi Bascompte (2006), Selforganization in Complex Ecosystems, Princeton U. Press
  • Steven Strogatz (2004), Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order, Theia.
  • D'Arcy Thompson (1917), On Growth and Form, Cambridge University Press, 1992 Dover Publications edition.
  • Norbert Wiener (1962), The mathematics of self-organising systems. Recent developments in information and decision processes, Macmillan, N. Y. and Chapter X in Cybernetics, or control and communication in the animal and the machine, The MIT Press, 2nd Edition 1962
  • Tom De Wolf, Tom Holvoet (2005), Emergence Versus Self-Organisation: Different Concepts but Promising When Combined, In Engineering Self Organising Systems: Methodologies and Applications, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, volume 3464, pp 1–15.
  • Tsekeris, Charalambos and Konstantinos Koskinas (2010) "A Weak Reflection on Unpredictability and Social Theory", tripleC – Cognition, Communication, Co-operation: Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society, 8, 1, pp. 36-42.
  • K. Yee (2003), "Ownership and Trade from Evolutionary Games," International Review of Law and Economics, 23.2, 183-197.
  • Louise B. Young (2002), The Unfinished Universe
  • Mikhail Prokopenko (ed.) (2008), Advances in Applied Self-organizing Systems, Springer.

[edit] External links

Dissertations and Theses on Self-organization