Do Complex Adaptive
Systems Do Real Work?
We're interested in theories that deal
with the emergence of organization. More practically,
in design heuristics for coordinating lightweight
semi-independent processes without
the use of centralized controllers. These types of
systems are understood to be self-organizing and
are said to exhibit "swarm intelligence".
We are pursuing an intuition
that the origin, growth and adaptivity of organization
can be understood through the application of Stuart
Kauffman's Autonomous Agent theory.
must a physical system be such that it can act on
its own behalf?" An autonomous agent, or a
collection of them in an environment, is a nonequilibrium
system that propagates some new union of matter,
energy, constraint construction, measurement, record,
information and work. It is a new organization of
process and events."
an Autonomous Agent is a collectively autocatalytic
system that performs one or more thermodynamic
cycles. Autonomous Agents
do the following:
- measure useful
displacements from equilibrium from which work can
- discover devices
to couple to those energy psources such that
can be extracted
- apply work to
develop constraints to extract work
learn more about Autonomous Agents, view a web
video lecture given by Stuart.
Now, what does this esoteric mumbo
jumbo have to do with programming software agents?
one problem that immediately confronts developers
when designing self-organizing software systems
how to design the agents to coordinate
their actions to realize a useful emergent system.
Some call this the inverse problem
of agent design.
Thorp, J., Guerin, S., Wimberly, F., Rossbach, M., Densmore, O., Agar, M., Roberts, D. (2006) Santa Fe On Fire: agent-based modeling of wildfire evacuation dynamcis . in Proceedings of the Agent 2006 Conference on Social Agents: Results and Prospects, ANL/DIS-06-7, ISBN 0-9679168-7-9, Sallach, D.L., C.M. Macal, and M.J. North (editors), co-sponsored by Argonne National Laboratory and The University of Chicago, September 21-23.
Joyce, D., Kennison, J., Densmore, O., Guerin, S., Barr, S., Charles, E. and Thompson, N. (2006). 'My Way or the Highway: a More Naturalistic Model of Altruism Tested in an Iterative Prisoners' Dilemma'. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 9(2) <http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/9/2/4.html>.
M., Guerin, S., Holmes, R., Kunkle, D., (2004). Epidemiology
The Paradigm-Busting Use of Complexity and Ethnography.
In: Proceedings of Agent 2004:Challenges in Social
Guerin, S. (2004). Peeking
into the black-box: Some art and science to visualizing
agent-based models. Proceedings of the
2004 Winter Simulation Conference R .G. Ingalls,
M. D. Rossetti, J. S. Smith, and B. A. Peters,
Gambhir, M., Guerin, S., Kauffman,
S., Kunkle, D. (2004) Steps
toward a possible theory of organization. In: Proceedings
of International Conference on Complex Systems 2004.
Guerin, S. and Kunkle, D. (2004) Emergence
of constraint in self-organizing systems. Journal
of Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences,
Vol. 8, No. 2, April, 2004.
Gambhir, M., Guerin, S., Kunkle, D.,
and Harris, R. (2004) Measures Of Work in Artificial
Life. submitted for publication.
Boyle, S., Guerin, S., Pratt, J., and
Kunkle, D. (2003). Application
of agent-based simulation to policy appraisal in
the criminal justice system
in England and Wales. In: Proceedings of
Agent 2003:Challenges in Social Simulation
Boyle, S., Guerin, S., and Kunkle,
D. (2006) . An Application of Multi-Agent Simulation
to Policy Appraisal in the Criminal Justice System.
In Chen, S. H., Jain, L., and Tai, C. C. (Eds.), Computational
Economics: A Perspective from Computational Intelligence.
Hershey, PA : Idea Group [book
Below is a loose
collection of proof-of-concepts and software experimentations.
None of these 'scratchpad' applications are presented
as functioning wholes. Please feel free to explore
but don't be suprised by demos lacking instructions
or obvious interaction paths.
Explores flocking behavior in the presence
of environmental effectors.
Explore some artifacts from research. (Currently
no instructions or obvious interactivity)
Application to facilitate the sharing and
archiving of consumer digital photos. All
files are stored
and duplicated on a peer network. There are
no centralized servers. The developed algorithms
employ distributed software agents that use
only local information. Through the agents'
interactions, coordinated network behavior
emerges without a centralized controller.
The peer network
is adaptive to patterns in user demand through
the evolution of the network's topology and
edge weights. Data files have autonomous agency
and follow gradients in the network established
by concentrations of user load. Data movement
toward the gradient's source reduces perceived
data latency. The algorithms provide robustness
against node failure. Ant algorithms are used
in the search for files.
a self-organizing peer2peer network that adaptively
allocates resources of disk space, cpu and bandwidth.
- Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma
Is it more
strategic to know when to leave a relationship
than it is to know how to behave within one?
This applet extends the standard iterated
prisoner's dilemma to include the choice
to leave a relationship. The strategy MOTH
way Or The Highway)
beats Tit-for-Tat in early tests with a limited
sampling of the strategy spaces of partners.
MOTH is dominant over Tit-for-Tat while
both strategies are of equal complexity.
MOTH unconditionally cooperates
and conditionally leaves when defected against.
Tit-for-Tat, conversely, conditionally defects
when defected against and unconditionally
Explore this Netlogo
Owen Densmore extending the earlier
work by David Joyce, John Kennison, and
development. Web P2P version of
Jim Herriot and Bruce Sawhill's NumEconomy.
Check out Partecon.org
believe such object-based economic web tools
will come into existence in the near future.
And I believe that such tools will be very powerful
means of coordinating activities within supply
chains and within the larger economy when linked
by automated markets.
Proof-of-concept for Honda R&D. Includes
user-directed evolution of 3D shapes on consumer-level
machines. Demonstrates crossover and mutation
of shapes. Enables consumer-designers to share
potential car shapes with other users via p2p
network. Prototype app.
demonstrates GA's to search high
dimensional design space, Peer2Peer and the
deployment of identical codebases in screensaver
and web browser context. The Shapeshifter project
was mentioned in Clippinger's
Biology of Business
Created for BiosGroup:
3D visualization of a network flow algorithm.
Indicates capacities, transactions and optimization.
The challenge was to maintain discrete transaction
granularity which traditional network flow algorithms
tend to aggregate into homogenous, continuous
flows. Transparency of the algorithms mechanism
was an important tool for a large energy company
to communicate rerouting and reductions of pipleline
transactions to customers and regulating bodies.
may be expanded as core visualization
tool. Demonstrates distributed model-view-controller
Additional areas of research are detailed
on Daniel Kunkle's page.
Below are some demos that may serve as
future components to an AutonomousAgent software implementation.
Or, they may just be eye-candy. Either way, enjoy.
Emergent behavior from interacting agents
with low-level rules. Demonstrates contribution
of noise to reduce frustration and the establishment
of a dynamic equilibrium.
experiment to generate 3D agent
General 3D graph layout with springs and mass
nodes. Demonstrates self-organization to minimum
Feasibility study of real-time 3D deformation,
evolution and rendering in a web browser for
Genomes specifying 3D shape properties are
randomly generated. Offspring are created with
mutation and crossover.
A two-dimensional cellular automata on the
surface of a sphere.
experiment to getNeighbors on
Research relevant to Organizational
- Can we model a firm or supply web
as an open, far-from-equilibrium organization? What
are the relevant flows? What are the conserved quantities?
- Can we address the coupling of reversible
processes and irreversible processes in adaptive
- How can we measure or describe symmetry
breaks in causal relationships between agents?
- What does it mean for individuals
to lose degrees of freedom as the system self-organizes?
- Can we identify a calculus that allows
for the emergence of constraints? Pi? Fusion?
- How can we scientifically approach
describing a firm's or supply web's identity - that
which maintains and adapts itself by changing its
- In what contexts is it appropriate
for these organizations to be self-organizing and
in what contexts are command and control organizations
- How can distributed software tools
provide mechanisms of entrainment between agents
within and between organizations.
- If an autonomous agent is a self-organizing
system that can use information to adapt, what might
a corporate information system look like to support
We suspect that firms and supply webs
can be understood as autonomous agents that self-organize
toward emergent levels of intention beyond the aggregate
intentions of its lower level agents. This intention
can arise via emergent dynamics coupling with new
contextual environments at higher spatial and temporal
scales. This coupling can provide top-down constraints
that selects among the possible bottom-up emergent
1999). Within this framework, we try to understand
what it means for a firm or supply web to act
We believe that economic
organizations are, to varying degrees, self-organizing
social systems. Traditional organization management
science is grounded in the paradigm of the organization
as machine. As a result, organizations tend to be
externally designed and mechanistically regulated
via command and control hierarchies. While efficient,
these organizations have difficulty adapting in environments
of great change. Our goal
is to develop networks of software agents that can
act as generative tools to transform the management
of firms and supply webs from command and control
organizations to self-organizing adaptive systems.
Increasingly, these agents will be used to regulate
resource assignment both within and between firms.
List/Links (no particular order)
Jain and Krishna. Graph
Theory and the Evolution of Autocatalytic Networks (pdf)
Walter Fontana, and Leo W. Buss. Barriers
to Objects: From Dynamical Systems to Bounded Organizations In:
J. Casti and A. Karlqvist eds.
Boundaries and Barriers, pp.: 56-116, Addison-Wesley,
Bonabeau, Eric. Agent-based
modeling: Methods and techniques for simulating
human systems PNAS
Vol 99 Sup 3 (pdf)
Smith, Eric and Foley, Duncan. Is
Utility Theory So Different From Thermodynamics?
Santa Fe Institute Working Paper, 2002
Kauffman, Stuart. Investigations,
Chapter 3 - Autonomous Agents and Chapter 4 - Propagating
preprint of Investigations)
of Autonomous Agents)
Kugler, Peter and Turvey, Michael. (1987). Information,
Natural Law, and the Self-Assembly of Rhythmic
Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
-- Out of Print
Schneider, Eric D. and Kay, James J. Order
from Disorder: The Thermodynamics of Complexity in
Schneider, Eric D. and Kay, James J. Life
as a Manifestation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics
Economics and Social Interactions: State and Market
Formations. SFI Research Focus Area
Dynamics. SFI Research Focus Area
Guerin, S. and Kunkle, D. (2004) Emergence
of constraint in self-organizing systems. Nonlinear
Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 8,
No. 2, April, 2004.
Parunak, H. Van Dyke. Go
to the Ant: Engineering Principles from Natural
Heylighen, Francis. The
Science of Self-Organization and Adaptivity (pdf)
Juarrero, Alicia. Dynamics
in Action - Intentional Behavior as a Complex System
Chapter 9 - Constraints as Causes
Parunak, H. Van Dyke and Brueckner, Sven. Entropy
and Self-Organization in Multi-Agent Systems
Cefn Hoile's research
site at BTexact