From System Complexity to Emergent Properties

Part of the series Understanding Complex Systems pp 101-114

A formalism for multi-level emergent behaviours in designed component-based systems and agent-based simulations

  • Chih-Chun ChenAffiliated withDepartment of Computer Science, University College London
  • , Sylvia B. NaglAffiliated withDepartment of Oncology and Biochemistry, University College London
  • , Christopher D. ClackAffiliated withDepartment of Computer Science, University College London

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There currently exists no means of specifying or analysing specific emergent behaviours in designed multi-component systems. For this reason, important questions about the lower level mechanisms giving rise to emergent behaviours cannot be resolved.

We provide a compositional definition of behaviours in terms of complex events, which can be defined at multiple levels of abstraction and related hierarchically. Based on existing theories of emergence, we also distinguish complex events that constitute emergent behaviours and those that do not. We describe how such emergent behaviours can be analysed by decomposition in terms of their underlying mechanisms.