Quantitative Emergence

Part of the Autonomic Systems book series (ASYS, volume 1)


Emergence can be defined as the formation of order from disorder based on self-organisation. Humans—by looking at a self-organising system—can decide intuitively whether emergence was taking place or not. To build self-organising technical systems we need to automate the recognition of emergent behaviour. In this paper we try to give a quantitative and practically usable definition of emergence. The presented theoretical approach is applied to an experimental environment, which shows emergent behaviour. An Observer/Controller architecture with emergence detectors is introduced. The proposed definition of emergence is discussed in comparison with Shannon’s information theoretical approach.


Emergence Self-organisation Order Entropy Observer/controller architecture 


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Systems EngineeringLeibniz Universität HannoverHannoverGermany

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