Encyclopedia of Complexity and Systems Science

2009 Edition
| Editors: Robert A. Meyers (Editor-in-Chief)

Self-organizing Systems

  • Wolfgang Banzhaf
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-30440-3_475

Definition of the Subject

Self‐organization is a core concept of Systems Science. It refers to the ability of a class ofsystems (self‐organizing systems (SOS)) to change their internal structure and/or their function in response to external circumstances. Elements ofself‐organizing systems are able to manipulate or organize other elements of the same system in a way that stabilizes either structure orfunction of the whole against external fluctuations. The process of self‐organization is often achieved by growing the internal space‐timecomplexity of a system and results in layered or hierarchical structures or behaviors. This process is understood not to be instructed from outsidethe system and is therefore called self‐organized.

Modern ideas about self‐organization start with the foundation of cybernetics in the 1940s. W. Ross Ashby, H. von Foerster and N. Wiener,among others, have contributed to an early understanding. Later, the concept was adopted in physics and nowadays pervades...

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfgang Banzhaf
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John'sCanada