Theory in Biosciences

, Volume 135, Issue 3, pp 131–161 | Cite as

Defining and simulating open-ended novelty: requirements, guidelines, and challenges

  • Wolfgang BanzhafEmail author
  • Bert Baumgaertner
  • Guillaume Beslon
  • René Doursat
  • James A. Foster
  • Barry McMullin
  • Vinicius Veloso de Melo
  • Thomas Miconi
  • Lee Spector
  • Susan Stepney
  • Roger White
Original Paper


The open-endedness of a system is often defined as a continual production of novelty. Here we pin down this concept more fully by defining several types of novelty that a system may exhibit, classified as variation, innovation, and emergence. We then provide a meta-model for including levels of structure in a system’s model. From there, we define an architecture suitable for building simulations of open-ended novelty-generating systems and discuss how previously proposed systems fit into this framework. We discuss the design principles applicable to those systems and close with some challenges for the community.


Modelling and simulation Open-ended evolution Novelty Innovation Major transitions Emergence 



We thank the anonymous referees for their insightful comments, which have helped to improve this paper from an earlier version. The authors acknowledge funding from diverse agencies: W. Banzhaf from NSERC under Discovery Grant RGPIN 283304-2012, B. Baumgaertner and J. A. Foster from the BEACON Center for Evolution in Action and from IBEST, G. Beslon and S. Stepney from the European Commission 7th Framework Programme (FPFP7-ICT-2013.9.6 FET Proactive: Evolving Living Technologies) EvoEvo project (ICT-610427), V.V. de Melo from Brazilian Government CNPq (Universal) grant (486950/2013-1) and Brazilian Government CAPES (Science without Borders Program) grant (12180-13-0), L. Spector from the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 1129139 and 1331283. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CAPES/CNPq (Brazilian Government), European Commission (EU), NSERC (Canada), or NSF (USA). The authors are grateful to Memorial University for providing infrastructure for our workshop and to Overleaf for providing an excellent collaborative tool for writing a LaTeX document.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfgang Banzhaf
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bert Baumgaertner
    • 2
  • Guillaume Beslon
    • 3
  • René Doursat
    • 4
    • 5
  • James A. Foster
    • 6
  • Barry McMullin
    • 7
  • Vinicius Veloso de Melo
    • 1
  • Thomas Miconi
    • 8
  • Lee Spector
    • 9
  • Susan Stepney
    • 10
  • Roger White
    • 11
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceMemorial University of Newfoundland St. John’sCanada
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy and Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary StudiesUniversity of IdahoMoscowUSA
  3. 3.Université de Lyon, INSA-Lyon, INRIA Beagle, CNRS LIRIS UMR5205Villeurbanne France
  4. 4.BioEmergences LabCNRS USR3695Gif-sur-YvetteFrance
  5. 5.Complex Systems Institute Paris Ile-de-France (ISC-PIF), CNRS UPS3611ParisFrance
  6. 6.Department of Biological Sciences, and Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary StudiesUniversity of IdahoMoscowUSA
  7. 7.Dublin City UniversityDublinIreland
  8. 8.The Neurosciences InstituteLa JollaUSA
  9. 9.Cognitive Science, Hampshire CollegeAmherstUSA
  10. 10.Department of Computer Science, and York Centre for Complex Systems AnalysisUniversity of YorkYorkUK
  11. 11.Department of GeographyMemorial University of Newfoundland St. John’sCanada

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