Exploring Emergence

The World of Langton's Ant:
Thinking about "Purpose"

Introduction and Outline

This interactive exhibit, intended for a general audience, explores some basic notions of "emergent" or "complex" systems, doing so in a way that connects these to an array of larger issues for which such notions may be relevant.

If you find this exhibit useful, either yourself or in a class setting, we'd like very much to hear about your experiences with it. And if you have suggestions about how it could be made more useful in particular contexts, we'd like to hear those suggestions as well.

Comments which you're willing to have others hear (and might be helpful to them in thinking about or imagining ways to use this exhibit) can be posted in an on-line forum. You can also email us with comments or suggestions of material you would like to add to the exhibit.

The Story
(each section links successively to the next)

Part 1: Watching: What's It Do?

Part 2: Looking Inside: How's It Work?

Part 3: Making Sense of the Observations

A. Agents, Environments, and their Interactions

B. The World, with an Observer/Participant Added

C. The Existence? and Significance? of a Designer/Architect/Planner

D. Beyond Determinism: Randomness as a First Mover?

Part 4: Summarizing and Going Beyond ...

Additional Materials

Additional Resources
Notes on Emergence
Notes on Education

Need help to run the applet?


"The World of Langton's Ant" was produced by Paul Grobstein with the Summer 2005 Serendip/SciSoc group. Applets were created with NetLogo by Rebekah Baglini, building on earlier work. Our thanks to the Emergent Systems Working Group for fertile conversations from which this emerged and to which we hope it further contributes.
Introduction
Watching
Looking Inside
Agents/Environments | Observers | Architects | Beyond Determinism?
Summary and ...
Further reflections on Emergence and Science Education
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