Computational Autopoiesis:
The Original Algorithm

Barry McMullin


Santa Fe Institute
Working Paper Number: 97-01-001

Dublin City University
School of Electronic Engineering
Technical Report Number: bmcm9701


This report presents a detailed review and re-presentation of the algorithm for (computational) realisation of autopoiesis, originally presented by Varela et al. (1974). The review is from the perspective of one seeking to re-implement this algorithm. It arises from an on-going project to develop such a re-implementation using the Swarm simulation system.[1] The motivation for such re-implementation is firstly to critically re-examine the phenomenology generated by this model chemistry, and secondly to use it as a basis for exploring more complex systems. The algorithm is first reviewed and annotated for internal consistency and clarity; it is then separately reviewed for consistency with the experimental results which originally accompanied it.

A number of significant discrepancies are discussed. By kind permission of Francisco Varela, this report also includes, as an Appendix, some previously unpublished documentation and source code (in FORTRAN IV) associated with the original model. By critical consideration of the experimental results in conjunction with this code, an important--perhaps crucial--interaction, not included in any previous description of the model, has been re-discovered. This interaction is presented and discussed briefly.

Keywords: Autopoiesis, Artificial Life, Artificial Chemistry, Origin of Life.

Copyright © 1997 All Rights Reserved.
Timestamp: Tue Dec 31 18:43:32 GMT 1996