Signals and Boundaries: Building Blocks for Complex Adaptive Systems

Signals and Boundaries: Building Blocks for Complex Adaptive Systems

by John H. Holland

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Overview

Signals and Boundaries: Building Blocks for Complex Adaptive Systems by John H. Holland

An overarching framework for comparing and steering complex adaptive systems is developed through understanding the mechanisms that generate their intricate signal/boundary hierarchies.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262304979
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 07/13/2012
Series: MIT Press
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 316
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John H. Holland is Professor of Psychology and Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at 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 other books.

Table of Contents

Preface vii

1 The Roles of Signals and Boundaries 1

2 Theory and Models: 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

9 The Evolution of Niches-A First Look 159

10 Language: Grammars and Niches 181

11 Grammars as Finitely Generated Systems 205

12 An Overarching Signal/Boundary Framework 217

13 A Dynamic Generated System Model of Ontogeny 229

14 A Complete Dynamic Generated System for Signal/Boundary Studies 245

15 Mathematical Models of Generated Structures 265

16 A Short Version of the Whole 281

References 297

Index 303

What People are Saying About This

Simon Levin

Complex adaptive systems assume definition as agents arise and organize themselves into specialized units with boundaries and signals that sustain those boundaries, becoming agents themselves in ever-more-complex hierarchies. In his characteristic engaging style, John Holland elucidates the universal organizational principles that characterize hierarchical pattern formation across the spectrum of science.

Endorsement

Complex adaptive systems assume definition as agents arise and organize themselves into specialized units with boundaries and signals that sustain those boundaries, becoming agents themselves in ever-more-complex hierarchies. In his characteristic engaging style, John Holland elucidates the universal organizational principles that characterize hierarchical pattern formation across the spectrum of science.

Simon Levin, Moffett Professor of Biology, Princeton University

From the Publisher

"What is common to cells, rainforests, markets, and language? John Holland demonstrates that each of these complex systems can be analyzed by studying the signals between their evolving parts, the changing boundaries that define these parts, and the coevolution of the signals and the boundaries. The result is a deeper understanding of all complex systems as each application enlightens the others. A remarkable achievement."—RobertAxelrod, author of The Evolution of Cooperation

"Complex adaptive systems assume definition as agents arise and organize themselves into specialized units with boundaries and signals that sustain those boundaries,becoming agents themselves in ever-more-complex hierarchies. In his characteristic engaging style,John Holland elucidates the universal organizational principles that characterize hierarchical pattern formation across the spectrum of science."—Simon Levin, MoffettProfessor of Biology, Princeton University

Robert Axelrod

What is common to cells, rainforests, markets, and language? John Holland demonstrates that each of these complex systems can be analyzed by studying the signals between their evolving parts, the changing boundaries that define these parts, and the coevolution of the signals and the boundaries. The result is a deeper understanding of all complex systems as each application enlightens the others. A remarkable achievement.

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