Emergence in Organic Computing Systems: Discussion of a Controversial Concept

  • Christian Müller-Schloer
  • Bernhard Sick
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4158)


Philosophy of mind has investigated the emergent behavior of complex systems for more than a century. However, terms such as “weak” or “strong” emergence are hardly applicable to intelligent technical systems. Organic Computing has the goal to utilize concepts such as emergence and self-organization to build complex technical systems. At first glance this seems to be a contradiction, but: These systems must be reliable and trustworthy! In order to measure, to control, and even to design emergence, a new notion or definition of emergence is needed. This article first describes the definition of emergence as used in philosophy of mind because this definition is often misunderstood or misinterpreted. Then, some very recent approaches for definitions of emergence in more or less technical contexts are discussed from the viewpoint of Organic Computing. The article concludes with some new thoughts that may help to come to a unifying notion of emergence in intelligent technical systems.


Technical System Emergent Property Strong Emergence Emergent Behavior Resonant Circuit 
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 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Müller-Schloer
    • 1
  • Bernhard Sick
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Systems Engineering – System and Computer ArchitectureUniversity of HannoverHannoverGermany
  2. 2.Faculty of Computer Science and Mathematics – Institute of Computer ArchitecturesUniversity of PassauPassauGermany

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