Amorphous computing

Unconventional computing
(Abelson et al. 2000)
Wikipedia, CSAIL’s website

From (Abelson et al. 2000):

A colony of cells cooperates to form a multicellular organism under the direction of a genetic program shared by the members of the colony. A swarm of bees cooperates to construct a hive. Humans group together to build towns, cities, and nations.

Amorphous computing was coined by Abelson, Knight, Sussman et al. It refers to computational systems composed of a large number of identical parallel devices (processors) with limited computational capacity. The processors interact locally, without particular knowledge of their position in the medium.

[…] this paper argues that now is an opportune time to tackle the engineering of emergent order: to identify the engineering principles and languages that can be used to observe, control, organize, and exploit the behavior of programmable multitudes.

Cellular automata can be seen as a kind of elementary amorphous computing device.


Abelson, Harold, Don Allen, Daniel Coore, Chris Hanson, George Homsy, Thomas F. Knight Jr, Radhika Nagpal, Erik Rauch, Gerald Jay Sussman, and Ron Weiss. 2000. “Amorphous Computing.” Communications of the ACM 43 (5). ACM New York, NY, USA:74–82.

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