PhD thesis: "final" version online

After making several minor corrections, I have a "final" version of my thesis, which you can download here. I should defend it privately on April 20th, and if everything goes well, the public defense would be on May 2nd. Everybody's welcome!

Design and Control of Self-organizing Systems

PhD Dissertation presented by

Carlos Gershenson

Prof. Dr. Bart D’Hooghe and
Prof. Dr. Francis Heylighen
Prof. Dr. Bruce Edmonds
Prof. Dr. Bernard Manderick
Prof. Dr. Peter McBurney
Prof. Dr. Ann Nowé


Complex systems are usually difficult to design and control. There are several particular methods for coping with complexity, but there is no general approach to build complex systems. In this thesis I propose a methodology to aid engineers in the design and control of complex systems. This is based on the description of systems as self-organizing. Starting from the agent metaphor, the methodology proposes a conceptual framework and a series of steps to follow to find proper mechanisms that will promote elements to find solutions by actively interacting among themselves. The main premise of the methodology claims that reducing the “friction” of interactions between elements of a system will result in a higher “satisfaction” of the system, i.e. better performance.

A general introduction to complex thinking is given, since designing self-organizing systems requires a non-classical thought, while practical notions of complexity and self-organization are put forward. To illustrate the methodology, I present three case studies. Self-organizing traffic light controllers are proposed and studied with multi-agent simulations, outperforming traditional methods. Methods for improving communication within self-organizing bureaucracies are advanced, introducing a simple computational model to illustrate the benefits of self-organization. In the last case study, requirements for self-organizing artifacts in an ambient intelligence scenario are discussed. Philosophical implications of the conceptual framework are also put forward.



A silly solution to global warming

Nuclear winter...
(See Complexity Digest 2007.06 for an excerpt, or Science News for the full article).


CfP: ECAL2007 - 9th European Conference on Artificial Life

ECAL2007 - 9th European Conference on Artificial Life

September 10-14, 2007
Lisbon, Portugal

Submission deadline: April 9, 2007 | www.ecal2007.org

Artificial Life aims at the study of all phenomena characteristic of natural living systems, through methodologies of synthesis implemented in computational, robotic or other artificial architectures. Its wide scope ranges from the investigation of how life or life-like properties develop from inorganic components to how cognitive processes emerge in natural or artificial systems. The ″European″, in European Conference on Artificial Life - ECAL, merely refers to the conference location, but participation is worldwide. In this ECAL we envisage maintaining and enlarging this worldwide scope and want to emphatically encourage novelty and daring ideas, particularly amongst young researchers. We welcome both technical and conceptual papers, in all areas of the field, including but not restricted to:
Origin and synthesis of Life: artificial chemistries, autocatalytic systems, pre-biotic evolution, self-replication, self-organization, molecular self-assembly; Information and Measures of Complexity; Networks and Complex Systems; Evolutionary Robotics and Autonomous Agents: exploitation and evolution of morphologies, 3D rapid prototyping printers, non-holonomic robot control, bio-morphic engineering, self-assembly, evolvable hardware, collective robotics; Models of Brain-Body-Environment interaction: the question of the boundaries, the dynamical systems approach, agency, homeostasis and autopoiesis, sensorimotor coordination, action-perception loops; Morphogenesis and Development: artificial systems, natural systems; Learning, Adaptive Behaviour and Evolution: learning and development, learning and evolution; Social Behavior: language, social interaction, communication, swarm intelligence, ant systems; A-Life Art; Epistemological Issues, Tools and Methodologies: modeling in A-life, synthetic vs analytic models; Philosophical Issues; Ethical and Social Issues;

· Proceedings Publication:
All the papers accepted for talks or poster presentations will be published by Springer in the LNCS/LNAI series

· Format and submissions:
Papers must not exceed 10 pages in the Springer format and should be submitted as a pdf file, through the ECAL2007 website automated submission system. More instructions, namely about the camera-ready version format can be find in the Springer page for authors at www.springer.com/lncs or in the conference website [check the ″Submissions″ and ″Proceedings″ pages].

· Questions:
Questions about submissions or reviewing must be emailed to: submissions@ecal2007.org For all the information on the conference, check the website at www.ecal2007.org

· More Information:
The ECAL2007 conference will present top keynote speakers and include a diversity of workshops, tutorials, and other associated events. For more information, check the website at www.ecal2007.org

· Organizing Committee:
Fernando Almeida e Costa (Chair), Luis Mateus Rocha, Ernesto Costa, Inman Harvey, António Coutinho