Signals and Boundaries: Building Blocks for Complex Adaptive Systems

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MIT Press, Jul 13, 2012 - Computers - 308 pages

Complex adaptive systems (cas), including ecosystems, governments, biological cells, and markets, are characterized by intricate hierarchical arrangements of boundaries and signals. In ecosystems, for example, niches act as semi-permeable boundaries, and smells and visual patterns serve as signals; governments have departmental hierarchies with memoranda acting as signals; and so it is with other cas. Despite a wealth of data and descriptions concerning different cas, there remain many unanswered questions about "steering" these systems. In Signals and Boundaries, John Holland argues that understanding the origin of the intricate signal/border hierarchies of these systems is the key to answering such questions. He develops an overarching framework for comparing and steering cas through the mechanisms that generate their signal/boundary hierarchies.

Holland lays out a path for developing the framework that emphasizes agents, niches, theory, and mathematical models. He discusses, among other topics, theory construction; signal-processing agents; networks as representations of signal/boundary interaction; adaptation; recombination and reproduction; the use of tagged urn models (adapted from elementary probability theory) to represent boundary hierarchies; finitely generated systems as a way to tie the models examined into a single framework; the framework itself, illustrated by a simple finitely generated version of the development of a multi-celled organism; and Markov processes.

 

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Contents

1 The Roles of Signals and Boundaries
1
General Principles
35
3 Agents and Signal Processing
57
4 Networks and Flows
85
5 Adaptation
99
6 Recombination and Reproduction
117
7 Urn Models of Boundaries
131
8 Boundary Hierarchies
145
11 Grammars as Finitely Generated Systems
205
12 An Overarching SignalBoundary Framework
217
13 A Dynamic Generated System Model of Ontogeny
229
14 A Complete Dynamic Generated System for SignalBoundary Studies
245
15 Mathematical Models of Generated Structures
265
16 A Short Version of the Whole
281
References
297
Index
303

9 The Evolution of NichesA First Look
159
Grammars and Niches
181

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About the author (2012)

John H. Holland is Professor of Psychology and Professor of Computer Science and Engineeringat the University of Michigan; he is also Trustee and External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute.He is the author of Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity and otherbooks.

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