Controlled Emergence and Self-Organization

  • Christian Müller-Schloer
  • Bernhard Sick
Part of the Understanding Complex Systems book series (UCS)


Admiration of nature’s ability to develop robust self-organizing and complex structures showing emergent behavior was the starting point for the Organic Computing (OC) endeavor. Although the concepts of self-organization and emergence have been subject to extensive investigations and discussions for more than 100 years, soon it became clear that we lack a quantitative assessment of these concepts as a basis for an implementation in technical systems. The main questions to be answered in this context are: Can we define emergence and self-organization (or sub-concepts thereof) compatible with a quantitative, experimental, and objectifiable method as required in natural science? Can we control self-organization and emergence without forcing their meaning? Are there generic architectures generally applicable to technical systems serving this purpose? In this chapter, we will try to give some answers to these questions. After an introduction and specificationv of the problem we will review some recent approaches to a definition of emergence and assess them with respect to their usability in our technical context. We will then introduce an architectural template, the Observer/Controller architecture, which seems to be a key feature in most OC systems. In addition to the general pattern –; essentially constituting a higher-level control loop –; this Observer/Controller architecture will be developed in some detail as a framework for own implementations. We present a quantitative approach for a technically relevant definition of emergence and self-organization, and propose a systematic approach to a ranking of various Observer/Controller architectures.


Observation Model Emergent Behavior Active Entity Trust Computing Observer Model 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    R.Abbott. Emergence explained: Getting epiphenomena to do real work. Technical Report; online: url,2005.
  2. 2.
    A.Bouajila, J.Zeppenfeld, W.Stechele, A.Herkersdorf, A.Bernauer, O.Bringmann, and W.Rosenstiel. Organic Computing at the System on Chip Level. In Proceedings of the IFIP International Conference on Very Large Scale Integration of System on Chip (VLSI-SoC 2006). Springer, October 2006.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    O.Buchtala and B.Sick. Functional knowledge exchange within an intelligent distributed system. In: P. Lukowicz, L. Thiele, G. Tröster (Eds.): Architecture of Computing Systems - ARCS 2007, volume 4415 of LNCS pages 126–;141, Springer, 2007.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    H.Cruse, J.Dean, and H.Ritter. Die Entdeckung der Intelligenz oder Können Ameisen denken? Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, München, 2001.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    T.De Wolf and T.Holvoet. Emergence versus self-organisation: Different concepts but promising when combined. In S.Brueckner, G.di Marzo Serugendo, A.Karageorgos, R.Nagpal, editors, Engineering Self-Organising Systems, Methodologies and Applications, volume 3464 of LNCS, pages 1–;15. Springer, 2005.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    T.De Wolf, G.Samaey, T.Holvoet, and D.Roose. Decentralized autonomic computing: Analysing self-organising emergent behavior using advanced numerical methods. In: Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Autonomic Computing (ICAC 2005), Seattle, pages 52–;63, 2005.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    G.di Marzo Serugendo, M.P. Gleizes, and A.Karageorgos. Self-organisation and emergence in MAS: An overview. Informatica, 30(1):45–;54, 2006.MATHGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    J.Fromm. Types and forms of emergence. Technical Report; online: url,2005.
  9. 9.
    J.Fromm. Ten questions about emergence. Technical Report; online: url,2005.
  10. 10.
    J.M.E. Gabbai, H.Yin, W.A. Wright, and N.M. Allinson. Self-organization, emergence and multi-agent systems. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Neural Networks and Brain (ICNN&B ’05), Beijing, volume 3, pages 1858–;1863, 2005.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    P.E.H. Hofmann and S.F. Leboch. Evolutionåre Elektronikarchitektur für Kraftfahrzeuge: Selbstorganisierende Strukturen im Automobil. it–; information technology, special issue on Organic Computing, 47:188-200, Oldenbourg Verlag, 2005.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    G.Mahmoudi and C.Müller-Schloer. Towards Ontology-based Embedded Services. In L.T. Yang, H.Jin, J.Ma, T.Ungerer, editors, Autonomic and Trusted Computing –; Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Autonomic and Trusted Computing (ATC-06), Wuhan and Three Gorges, volume 4158 of LNCS, pages 100–;112, Springer, 2006.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    M.Mnif M and C.Müller-Schloer. Quantitative Emergence. In: Proceedings of the 2006 IEEE Mountain Workshop on Adaptive and Learning Systems (IEEE SMCals 2006), pp 78-84, Logan, 2006.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    C.Müller-Schloer. Organic Computing –; On the Feasibility of Controlled Emergence, In: CODES + ISSS 2004 Proceedings, September 8-10, 2004, pages 2–;5, ACM Press, 2004.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    C.Müller-Schloer, M.Mnif, E.Cakar, H.Schmeck,and U. Richter. Adaptive and Self-organising Systems, Submitted to: ACM Transactions on Computational Logic Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    C.Müller-Schloer and B.Sick. Emergence in organic computing systems: discussion of a controversial concept. In L.T. Yang, H.Jin, J.Ma, T.Ungerer, editors, Autonomic and Trusted Computing –; Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Autonomic and Trusted Computing (ATC-06), Wuhan and Three Gorges, volume 4158 of LNCS, pages 1–;16, Springer, 2006.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    C. Müller-Schloer, C.v.d. Malsburg, R.P. Würtz. Organic Computing, Informatik Spektrum 27(4):332–;336, 2004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    U.Richter, M.Mnif, J.Branke, C.Müller-Schloer, and H.Schmeck. Towards a generic observer/controller architecture for Organic Computing, In: Informatik 2006, GI-Jahrestagung, 02.-06.10.06, Dresden, Proceedings, volume 1 , pages 112–;119, Springer, 2006.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    F.Rochner, H.Prothmann, J.Branke, C.Müller-Schloer, and H.Schmeck. An Organic Architecture for Traffic Light Controllers. In: Informatik 2006, GI-Jahrestagung, 02.-06.10.06, Dresden, Proceedings, volume 1 , pages120–;127, Springer, 2006.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    T.Schöler and C.Müller-Schloer. An Observer/Controller Architecture for Adaptive Reconfigurable Stacks, In: Proceedings ARCS 05, pages 139–;153, Springer, 2005.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    A.Stephan. Emergenz: Von der Unvorhersagbarkeit zur Selbstorganisation. 2nd edition, Mentis, Paderborn, 2005.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    A.Stephan. Zur Rolle des Emergenzbegriffs in der Philosophie des Geistes und in der Kognitionswissenschaft. In: D.Sturma, editor, Philosophie und Neurowissenschaften, pages 146-166. Volume 1770 in Taschenbuch Wissenschaft. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 2006.Google Scholar
  23. 23., Website of Wikipedia Encyclopedia (online: url
  24. 24., Website of Wikipedia Encyclopedia (online: url

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Müller-Schloer
    • 1
  • Bernhard Sick
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Systems Engineering –; System and Computer ArchitectureUniversity of Hannover30167 HannoverGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Computer Architectures –; Computationally Intelligent Systems GroupUniversity of Passau94032 PassauGermany

Personalised recommendations