Showing posts from 2013

New draft: Complexity measurement of natural and artificial languages

We compared entropy for texts written in natural languages (English, Spanish) and artificial languages (computer software) based on a simple expression for the entropy as a function of message length and specific word diversity. Code text written in artificial languages showed higher entropy than text of similar length expressed in natural languages. Spanish texts exhibit more symbolic diversity than English ones. Results showed that algorithms based on complexity measures differentiate artificial from natural languages, and that text analysis based on complexity measures allows the unveiling of important aspects of their nature. We propose specific expressions to examine entropy related aspects of tests and estimate the values of entropy, emergence, self-organization and complexity based on specific diversity and message length.
Complexity measurement of natural and artificial languages Gerardo Febres, Klaus Jaffe, Carlos Gershenson

CfP&A: ALife 14


July 31st - August 2nd, 2014
Javits Center, Manhattan, New York, NY, USA

Sponsored by the International Society for Artificial Life (ISAL)

January 15, 2014 -- Workshop/tutorial proposal deadline
February 1, 2014 -- Science visualization competition deadline
March 31, 2014 -- Paper/abstract submission deadline


We cordially invite you to submit papers to ALIFE 14: The Fourteenth
International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living
Systems. Since its inception in 1987, ALIFE has been the leading
biyearly international conference in the field of Artificial Life --
the highly interdisciplinary research area on artificially constructed
living systems, including mathematical, computational, robotic, and
biochemical ones. The understanding and application of such
generalized forms of life, or "life-as-it…

Editorial Published: Multidisciplinary applications of complex networks modeling, simulation, visualization, and analysis

(...) complex systems are characterized by the interactions between their numerous elements. The word ‘complex’ comes from the Latin plexus which means entwined. In other words, it is difficult to correlate global properties of complex systems with the properties of the individual constituent components. This is primarily because the interactions between these individual elements partly determine the future states of the system (Gershenson 2013). If these interactions are not included in the developed models, the models would not be an accurate reflection of the modelled phenomenon.

Gershenson, C. & M. A. Niazi (2013). Multidisciplinary applications of complex networks modeling, simulation, visualization, and analysis. Complex Adaptive Systems Modeling1:17

Artículo publicado: ¿Cómo hablar de complejidad?

In recent years, we have heard more and more about complexity. However, it seems that given the increasing discourse divergence on this topic, instead of generating knowledge we are generating confusion. This paper offers a perspective to speak clearly about complexity from an epistemological point of view.

En años recientes hemos escuchado hablar más y más sobre complejidad. Pero pareciera que al haber una diversidad creciente de discursos sobre el tema, en lugar de generar conocimiento estamos generando confusión. En este artículo se ofrece una perspectiva para hablar claramente sobre la complejidad desde un punto de vista epistemológico.

En els últims anys s'ha sentit parlar cada cop més de complexitat. Tot i això, com que hi ha una diversitat creixent de discursos sobre aquest tema, en lloc de generar coneixement, estem generant confusió. En aquest article s'ofereix una perspectiva per parlar clarament sobre complexitat des d'un punt de vista epistemològic.


Paper Published: Living in Living Cities

This article presents an overview of current and potential applications of living technology to some urban problems. Living technology can be described as technology that exhibits the core features of living systems. These features can be useful to solve dynamic problems. In particular, urban problems concerning mobility, logistics, telecommunications, governance, safety, sustainability, and society and culture are presented, and solutions involving living technology are reviewed. A methodology for developing living technology is mentioned, and supraoptimal public transportation systems are used as a case study to illustrate the benefits of urban living technology. Finally, the usefulness of describing cities as living systems is discussed.

Gershenson, C. (2013). Living in living cities. Artificial Life, 19 (3 & 4): 401–420. Access

Related to this TED@SãoPaulo talk.

Check the rest of the papers of this Special Issue o…

New draft: Modelling Complexity for Policy: Opportunities and Challenges

This chapter reviews the purpose and use of models from the field of complex systems and, in particular, the implications of trying to use models to understand or make decisions within complex situations, such as policy makers usually face. A discussion of the different dimensions one can formalise situations, the different purposes for models and the different kinds of relationship they can have with the policy making process, is followed by an examination of the compromises forced by the complexity of the target issues. Several modelling approaches from complexity science are briefly described, with notes as to their abilities and limitations. These approaches include system dynamics, network theory, information theory, cellular automata, and agent-based modelling. Some examples of policy models are presented and discussed in the context of the previous analysis. Finally we conclude by outlining some of the major pitfalls facing those wishing to use such models for policy evaluation…

¿Cómo hablar de complejidad?

Seminario en la Universidad de Barcelona, 2013-09-20.

Tenure Track Research Professor Position in Computer Science at UNAM

The Computer Science Department of the Instituto de Investigaciones en Matemáticas Aplicadas y en Sistemas (IIMAS) of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) has a open call for research professors.

Located in the heart of the UNAM's Ciudad Universitaria, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the IIMAS has been the leader in computer science in Mexico since the first computer in the country was acquired by UNAM. Researchers at UNAM have a privileged position for several reasons. UNAM is the highest ranked spanish speaking higher education institution in the world and produces half of the research in Mexico and is the largest in the continent (300K+ students). Professors in faculties do more teaching than research, while researchers in institutes (such as IIMAS) do more research than teaching (about 48 hours per year, usually to the best graduate students in the country. Groups of more than five students get a teaching assistant). Students in most graduate programs at UNAM recei…

New draft: The Past, Present and Future of Cybernetics and Systems Research

Cybernetics and Systems Research (CSR) were developed in the mid-twentieth century, offering the possibility of describing and comparing different phenomena using the same language. The concepts which originated in CSR have spread to practically all disciplines, many now used within the scientific study of complex systems. CSR has the potential to contribute to the solution of relevant problems, but the path towards this goal is not straightforward. This paper summarizes the ideas presented by the authors during a round table in 2012 on the past, present and future of CSR.

The Past, Present and Future of Cybernetics and Systems Research
Carlos Gershenson, Peter Csermely, Peter Erdi, Helena Knyazeva, Alexander Laszlo

Self-organizing Traffic Lights at MIT's Climate CoLab

The MIT Center for Collective Intelligence has developed a collaborative platform, the Climate CoLab, where thousands of people seek collectively solutions for problems related to climate change. The CoLab is running 18 contests for different categories. We are finalists in the Transportation Efficiency contest with the project "Self-organizing traffic lights". Being this a collective platform, people have to vote on the projects they prefer. Teams with the most votes for each contest will be invited to present at the Crowds and Climate Conference at MIT in November. Key implementers will be there.

If you would like traffic lights to work better, please share and vote for our proposal, "Self-organizing traffic lights" (quick registration required).


The optimal coordination of traffic lights is an extremely complex problem. Moreover, traffic situations change constantly, demanding everchanging solutions. Most traffic lights are fixed. And from the few ones t…

Postdoctoral Fellowships at UNAM

//Please forward to whom may be interested.

The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) has an open call for postdoctoral fellowships to start in March, 2014 (with a close deadline!).

Candidates should have obtained a PhD degree within the last three years and be under 36 years, both to the date of the beginning of the fellowship.

The area of interests of candidates should fall within complex systems, artificial life, information, evolution, cognition, robotics, and/or philosophy.

Interested candidates should send CV and a tentative project (1 paragraph) to by Friday, August 2nd.Full application package should be ready by Monday, August 5 at noon, Mexico City time.
Projects can be inspired from:

Postdoctoral fellowships are between one and two years (after renewal).
Spanish is not a requisite.
Accepted candidates would be working at the Self-organizing Systems Lab ( of the Computer Science D…

CfP: Special Issue: Entropy Methods in Guided Self-Organization

The goal of Guided Self-Organization (GSO) is to leverage the strengths of self-organization while still being able to direct the outcome of the self-organizing process. GSO typically has the following features: (i) an increase in organization (structure and/or functionality) over some time; (ii) the local interactions are not explicitly guided by any external agent; (iii) task-independent objectives are combined with task-dependent constraints.
A number of attempts have been made to formalize aspects of GSO within information theory, thermodynamics and dynamical systems. However, the lack of a broadly applicable mathematical framework across multiple scales and contexts leaves GSO methodology incomplete. Devising such a framework and identifying common principles of guidance are the main themes of the GSO workshops.
Of particular interest are well-founded, but general methods for characterizing GSO systems in a principled way, with the view of ultimately allowing them to be guided t…

New Paper: The Dynamically Extended Mind -- A Minimal Modeling Case Study

The extended mind hypothesis has stimulated much interest in cognitive science. However, its core claim, i.e. that the process of cognition can extend beyond the brain via the body and into the environment, has been heavily criticized. A prominent critique of this claim holds that when some part of the world is coupled to a cognitive system this does not necessarily entail that the part is also constitutive of that cognitive system. This critique is known as the "coupling-constitution fallacy". In this paper we respond to this reductionist challenge by using an evolutionary robotics approach to create a minimal model of two acoustically coupled agents. We demonstrate how the interaction process as a whole has properties that cannot be reduced to the contributions of the isolated agents. We also show that the neural dynamics of the coupled agents has formal properties that are inherently impossible for those neural networks in isolation. By keeping the complexity of the model…

New draft: Information Measures of Complexity, Emergence, Self-organization, Homeostasis, and Autopoiesis

In this chapter review measures of emergence, self-organization, complexity, homeostasis, and autopoiesis based on information theory. These measures are derived from proposed axioms and tested in two case studies: random Boolean networks and an Arctic lake ecosystem.
Emergence is defined as the information produced by a system or process. Self-organization is defined as the opposite of emergence, while complexity is defined as the balance between emergence and self-organization. Homeostasis reflects the stability of a system. Autopoiesis is defined as the ratio between the complexity of a system and the complexity of its environment. The proposed measures can be applied at multiple scales, which can be studied with multi-scale profiles.

Information Measures of Complexity, Emergence, Self-organization, Homeostasis, and Autopoiesis
Nelson Fernandez, Carlos Maldonado, Carlos Gershenson

New Draft: Information and (Human) Computation

In this chapter, concepts related to information and computation are reviewed in the context of human computation. A brief introduction to information theory and different types of computation is given. Two examples of human computation systems, online social networks and Wikipedia, are used to illustrate how these can be described and compared in terms of information and computation.

Full text at

Draft of a chapter to be published in Michelucci, P. (Ed.) Handbook of Human Computation, Springer.

Course on Coursera

Last week Coursera, the leading MOOC (massive open online course) initiative, announced 29 new partners, including UNAM, which will start the partnership giving three courses in Spanish. I have the privilege to teach one of these, on Scientific Thinking. You can already sign up, course begins on May 6th. In less than a week, almost 2500 students have enrolled.