Amorphous computing

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

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.

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.

This research was quite active in the late 90s and 2000s.

[…] 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. In this paradigm, computation has to emerge through the progressive self-organization of the medium.


  1. . . "Amorphous Computing". Communications of the ACM 43 (6). ACM New York, NY, USA:74–82.
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