Snowflaked Behaviors: simple rules produce complex behaviors

I’ve long been fascinated by the whole field of emergent behavior and its links to serendipity and personalization.  With thanks to Harold Jarche (@hjarche), a fellow Canadian and serendipitous learner, for serendipitously finding and passing this set of examples on in his recent Tweet.  I can heartily encourage you to spend some time playing with several of the interactive examples that are linked in the article below.

If this the opening line in the article will a bit counter intuitive at first;

“A set of several simple rules leads to complex, intelligent behavior. While a set of complex rules often leads to a dumb and primitive behavior.”

but reflect on this and then go convince yourself by doing some experiential learning with the links to several fun activities in the article.

I often bring up this point and these examples when evangelizing the power and value of The Snowflake Effect and why I find simple examples such as LEGO blocks to in fact be very powerful metaphors as to how we can indeed have the infinite scalability that mass customization and personalization requires.  Think too for example how all the music in the world is based on a small number of notes and simple rules.

Please do take the time to try out some of the fun examples you will find in the linked article below and I think you too will be amazed at just how quickly complex behaviors emerge from such simple rules.

Simple Rules, Complex Systems and Software Development

March 23rd, 2009Michael DubakovLeave a commentGo to comments

Many complex systems are based on simple rules. A set of several simple rules leads to complex, intelligent behavior. While a set of complex rules often leads to a dumb and primitive behavior. There are many examples.

Ants Colony

How ants search for food? They do not have cell phones, cars and mini-markets near the nest. They should have something simpler to communicate.

Here is how ants work:

  1. Travel randomly  in search for food.
  2. Take a piece of food and head straight back to the nest. On the way back to the nest lay down an odor trail.
  3. Notify nestmates of the discovered food encouraging them to leave the nest. These newly recruited ants will follow the odor trail directly to the food source. In their turn, each ant will reinforce the odor trail until the food is gone.

Sounds simple? Take a look at this very nice ants colony model. Drop some food and enjoy the action.


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