Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 63–73 | Cite as

Genetic Programming and Emergence

  • Wolfgang BanzhafEmail author


Emergence and its accompanying phenomena are a widespread process in nature. Despite its prominence, there is no agreement in the sciences about the concept and how to define or measure emergence. One of the most contentious issues discussed is that of top-down (or downward) causation as a defining characteristic of systems with emergence. In this contribution we shall argue that emergence happens in Genetic Programming, for all the world to see.


Genetic programming Emergence Emergent phenomena Top-down causation Repetitive patterns Modularity 



This opinion article arose from a workshop on Frontiers in Natural Computing which took place on September 10–12, 2012 at the Center for Complex Systems, University of York, York, UK. The author is grateful for the invitation to speak at this event, and for the lively discussions at the workshop. The author also acknowledges fascinating discussions at our interdisciplinary MUN Complex Systems Discussion Group. Reviewer comments were very helpful in improving this manuscript. W.B. is supported by NSERC under the Discovery Grant program, RGPIN 283304-2012.


  1. 1.
    L. Altenberg, Emergent phenomena in genetic programming, in Proceedings of the 3rd Annual Conference on Evolutionary Programming, ed. by A. Sebald, L. Fogel (World Scientific, Singapore, 1994), pp. 233–241Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    L. Altenberg, The evolution of evolvability in genetic programming, in Advances in Genetic Programming, ed. by K. Kinnear (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1994), pp. 47–74Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    P. Anderson, More is different. Science 177, 394–396 (1972)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    P. Angeline, Genetic programming and emergent intelligence, in Advances in Genetic Programming, ed. by K. Kinnear (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1994), pp. 75–98Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book H (Eta), 1045, 8–10Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    W. Banzhaf, P. Nordin, R. Keller, F. Francone, Genetic Programming—An Introduction (Morgan Kaufmann, San Francisco, 1998)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    M. Bedau, Weak emergence. Nous 31, 375–399 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    D. Blitz, Emergent Evolution: Qualitative Novelty and the Levels of Reality (Kluwer Academic, New York, 1992)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    C. Buckee, K. Jolley, M. Recker, B. Penman, P. Kriz, S. Gupta, M. Maiden, Role of selection in the emergence of lineages and the evolution of virulence in Neisseria meningitidis. PNAS 105, 15082–15087 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    M. Bunge, Emergence and Convergence: Qualitative Novelty and the Unity of Knowledge (University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2004)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    M. Conrads, P. Nordin, W. Banzhaf, Speech sound discrimination with genetic programming, in Genetic Programming—Proceedings of the 1st European Workshop EuroGP, ed. by W. Banzhaf, R. Poli, M. Schoenauer, T. Fogarty (Springer, 1998), pp. 113–129Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    G. Ellis, Physics and the real world. Phys. Today 58(7), 49–54 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    G. Ellis, On the nature of causation in complex systems. Trans. R. Soc. S. Afr. 63(1), 69–84 (2008)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    G. Ellis, D. Noble, T. O’Connor, Top-down causation: an integrating theme within and across the sciences? Interface Focus 2, 1–3 (2012)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    C. Emmeche, S. Koeppe, F. Stjernfelt, Explaining emergence: towards an ontology of levels. J. Gen. Philos. Sci. 28, 83–119 (1997)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    J. Holland, Emergence. Philosophica 59, 11–40 (1997)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    S. Holt, F. Olin, C. Reynolds, eds., in The Emergence of Cosmic Structure: Thirteenth Astrophysics Conference, College Park, MD, 7–9, Oct 2002, 2003, American Institute of PhysicsGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    H. Iba, Emergent cooperation for multiple agents using genetic programming, in Parallel Problem Solving from Nature PPSN IV, ed. by H.M. Voigt, W. Ebeling, I. Rechenberg, H.P. Schwefel, (Springer, 1996), pp. 32–41Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    I. Kant, Critique of Judgement, Part II, par 66 (1790)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    J. Kim, Emergence: core ideas and issues. Synthese 151, 547–559 (2006)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    V. Kvasnicka, J. Pospí, Emergence of modularity in genotype–phenotype mappings. Artif. Life 8, 295–310 (2002)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    W. Langdon, W. Banzhaf, Repeated sequences in linear genetic programming genomes. Complex Syst. 15, 285–306 (2005)zbMATHMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    W. Langdon, W. Banzhaf, Repeated patterns in genetic programming. Nat. Comput. 7, 589–613 (2008)zbMATHMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    R. Laughlin, A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down (Basic Books, New York, 2006)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    G. Lewes, Problems of Life and Mind (Kegan Paul, Trench, Turbner, and Co., London, 1875)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    G. Longo, M. Montevil, S. Kaufmann, No entailing laws, but enablement in the evolution of the biosphere, in Companion Volume of the 14th Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO-2012), pp. 1379–1391Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    H. Morowitz, The Emergence of Everything: How the World Became Complex (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    D. Noble, A theory of biological relativity: no privileged level of causation. Interface Focus 2, 55–64 (2012)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Y. Ogenessian, et al., Synthesis of a new element with atomic number z=117. Phys. Rev. Lett. 104, 142502 (2010)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    W. Ratcliff, R. Denisona, M. Borrelloa, M. Travisanoa, Experimental evolution of multicellularity. PNAS 109, 1595–1600 (2012)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    A. Ryan, Emergence is coupled to scope, not level. Complexity 13, 67–77 (2007)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    E. Sober, The multiple realizability argument against reductionism. Philos. Sci. 66, 542–564 (1999)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    L. Spector, B. Martin, K. Harrington, T. Helmuth, Tag-based modules in genetic programming, in Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO-2011), ed. by N. Krasnogor, P. Lanzi (ACM Press, New York, 2011), pp. 1419–1426Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    D. Thompson, Oral communication (2012)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    S. Wu, W. Banzhaf, Rethinking multilevel selection in genetic programming, in Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Genetic and Evolutionary Computation (GECCO-2011), ed. by N. Krasnogor, P. Lanzi (ACM Press, New York, 2011), pp. 1403–1410Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Memorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John’sCanada

Personalised recommendations