Team:ETH Zurich/project/background/emergence


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Emergence, Complexity and Simplicity

"The whole is more than the sum of its parts" Aristotle

Emergence describes how novel properties can arise from lower-complexity parts, where these properties are not observed.[12] This phenomenon is wide-spread in nature. One straight-forward example is water: From the molecules of H2O, which are here considered as simple subparts, we are able to consider the liquid "water" at a higher level of complexity, with properties such as viscosity, pressure, transparency etc.

One particular pattern formation retained our attention: some sea snail present a complex pattern on their shells. The "Cloth of Gold" observed on textile cones results from an inner computation of the neural cells of the sea snail. This pattern appears row by row (computation after computation) and the pigments of the next row are determined by the pigments of the row before.

ETHZurich TextileCone.jpg