To boldly go: an occam-π mission to engineer emergence

Peter H. Welch, Kurt Wallnau, Adam T. Sampson, Mark Klein

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)
    131 Downloads (Pure)


    Future systems will be too complex to design and implement explicitly. Instead, we will have to learn to engineer complex behaviours indirectly: through the discovery and application of local rules of behaviour, applied to simple process components, from which desired behaviours predictably emerge through dynamic interactions between massive numbers of instances. This paper describes a process-oriented architecture for fine-grained concurrent systems that enables experiments with such indirect engineering. Examples are presented showing the differing complex behaviours that can arise from minor (non-linear) adjustments to low-level parameters, the difficulties in suppressing the emergence of unwanted (bad) behaviour, the unexpected relationships between apparently unrelated physical phenomena (shown up by their separate emergence from the same primordial process swamp) and the ability to explore and engineer completely new physics (such as force fields) by their emergence from low-level process interactions whose mechanisms can only be imagined, but not built, at the current time.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)449–474
    Number of pages26
    JournalNatural Computing
    Issue number3
    Early online date28 Apr 2012
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


    • Complex systems
    • Emergent behaviour
    • Emergent relations
    • Emergent discovery
    • Process orientation
    • Mobile processes
    • occam-π


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