When Can We Call a System Self-Organizing?

  • Carlos Gershenson
  • Francis Heylighen
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2801)


We do not attempt to provide yet another definition of self-organization, but explore the conditions under which we can model a system as self-organizing. These involve the dynamics of entropy, and the purpose, aspects, and description level chosen by an observer. We show how, changing the level or “graining” of description, the same system can appear self-organizing or self-disorganizing. We discuss ontological issues we face when studying self-organizing systems, and analyse when designing and controlling artificial self-organizing systems is useful. We conclude that self-organization is a way of observing systems, not an absolute class of systems.


Maximum Entropy Statistical Entropy Entropy Increase Downward Causation High Level Property 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos Gershenson
    • 1
  • Francis Heylighen
    • 1
  1. 1.Centrum Leo ApostelVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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