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Many of the essays share the themes of design (how to construct such systems), the importance of preexisting structure to learning and the role of parallelism, and the tension between cooperative and competitive models of interaction. In the introduction, Stephanie Forrest presents several detailed examples of the kinds of problems emergent computation can address. These include showing how emergent computation can lead to efficiency improvements in parallel processing, establishing the connection between emergent computation and nonlinear systems, and comparing two search techniques to show how the emergent-computational approach to a problem differs from other more conventional approaches.