Saturday, November 30, 2013

Advent Programming Contest 2013

An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas. Advent calendars typically begin on December 1 and provide a window to open until December 24. Usually they have windows, which you can open each day containing some chocolate or other stuff. But what is better to kill some time until Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Boxing Day, etc. than an Advent calendar giving you a programming problem every day?

The Advent Programming Contest 2013, organized by the IEEE Student Branch Klagenfurt will provide a new problem every day from December 1st to December 24th. On Saturdays and Sundays, new problems will appear at 12:00 Central European Time, on workdays at 18:00 CET. You can submit solutions any day until the contest ends on December 26. You can choose to use C, C++, Java, Python or Perl as programming language. The programming tasks can be solved with short programs (typically less than 100 lines of code). Until a solution is correct you can submit your program as often as you want (but please don't spam our server). Your score depends on the number of correct solutions and the time and trials you needed to solve the problem. Winners will be announced after closing of the contest.

The event is open to everyone. If you want to participate, please register at When you register please indicate if you bleong to the group University, Pupils or other.
This is an individuals competition, not a team contest - be fair!
You can also join the contest after 1st December, Registration will be still possible until December 24.

See also the results form last years Advent Programming contest.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Interactive web resources on Self-Organizing Systems

WATOR Predator-Prey Simulation

WATOR is a simulation of the interaction over time of predator and prey in a small rectangular area
Language: Java (runs in Browser)

Fish School and Predator

This is a simulation of a fish school, where each fish tries to align to its comrades, forming a fish swarm after some time.

Language: Scratch (runs in Browser via Adobe Flash)

Ant Simulator

Simulation of virtual ants looking for food.
Language: Java (runs in Browser)

Conway's Game of Life

Interactive cellular automata simulation.
 Language: Java (runs in Browser)

Foxes and Rabbits Predator-Prey System

Simulation of a small ecosystem involving a fast-breedin prey (rabbits) and predators (foxes) feeding on them.
Language: Scratch (runs in Browser via Adobe Flash)

Slime Mold Simulation


Language: Netlogo (runs in Browser via Java)


Language: Netlogo (runs in Browser via Java)


Language: Netlogo (runs in Browser via Java)

Twitter Network Analysis

Interactiv webpage for analyzing trends on Twitter. 
Language: Javascript

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Complex Systems Community Explorer

If you are working in the field of complex systems, you face network analysis and graphical data representation. So why not use these features to organize your research network and to identify possible collaborators?
The complex systems community explorer developed at ISC-PIF by Julian Bilke and David Chavalarias is doing exactly this. In particular, it visualizes data are taken from the complex systems registry directory. This directory is an open directory maintained by several complex systems organisations and coordinated by the Complex Systems Society. After registering your data and interests, you can explore other scholars graphically. Links symbolize how semantically close two researchers are. The more shared keywords match, the stronger the link.

Monday, September 9, 2013

FREVO 1.0 released

We proudly announce the new release 1.0 of  FREVO (FRamework for EVOlutionary design). FREVO helps to reduce the time to implement, set up and run an evolutionary algorithm to evolve an agent's behavior as a solution to a particular control problem. FREVO is decomposing the task into problem definition, solution representation and the optimization method. These components allow to experiment with different combinations of algorithms and neural networks for different tasks.

The new version, FREVO 1.0, comes with 26 different components and an improved user interface which allows you to pause an evolution and check the intermediate results.

Quick start:
  1. download the newest version at 
  2. unpack the ZIP file
  3. unless you have it already on your system, install Java
  4. execute the createscrips.jar ("java -jar  createscrips.jar")
  5. you can now run FREVO using the script named launch_Frevo

...or have a look at the following video explaining the basic steps to get started with FREVO:

For more information see the following sources:

Monday, August 19, 2013

6th International Conference on Agents and Artificial Intelligence


March 6 - 8, 2014
Angers, France

In Cooperation with: AAAI and ACM SIGART
Co-organized by: ESEO
Sponsored by: INSTICC
INSTICC is Member of: FIPA, WfMC and OMG
Logistics Partner: SCITEVENTS

  Regular Paper Submission: September 24, 2013
  Authors Notification (regular papers): December 13, 2013
  Final Regular Paper Submission and Registration: January 7, 2014

The purpose of the 6th International Conference on Agents and Artificial Intelligence (ICAART) is to bring together researchers, engineers and practitioners interested in the theory and applications in the areas of Agents and Artificial Intelligence. Two simultaneous related tracks will be held, covering both applications and current research work.

We would like to highlight the presence of the following keynote speakers:
 - Philippe Leray, Université de Nantes, France
 - Henry Lieberman, MIT Media Laboratory, United States

ICAART is interested in promoting high quality research as it can be confirmed by last year acceptance rates, where from 269 submissions, 14% were accepted as full papers. Additionally, 22% were presented as short papers and 22% as posters.
Submitted papers will be subject to a double-blind review process. All accepted papers will be published in the conference proceedings, under an ISBN reference, on paper and on CD-ROM support. A short list of papers presented at the conference will be selected for publication of extended and revised versions in a special issue of Springer's LNCS TCCI Journal. The proceedings will be submitted for indexation by Thomson Reuters Conference Proceedings Citation Index (ISI), INSPEC, DBLP, EI (Elsevier Index) and Scopus. All papers presented at the conference venue will be available at the SCITEPRESS Digital Library ( SCITEPRESS is member of CrossRef (
Best paper awards will be distributed during the conference closing session. Please check the website for further information (
We would like to highlight the Doctoral Consortium on Agents and Artificial Intelligence that will take place in conjunction with ICAART and aims to provide an opportunity for graduate students to explore their research interests in an interdisciplinary workshop, under the guidance of a panel of distinguished experts in the field (

The conference will be sponsored by the Institute for Systems and Technologies of Information, Control and Communication (INSTICC), co-organized by the ESEO Group (ESEO) and held in cooperation with AAAI - Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and ACM SIGART - ACM Special Interest Group on Artificial Intelligence. INSTICC is Member of the Foundation for Intelligent Physical Agents (FIPA), Workflow Management Coalition (WfMC) and Object Management Group (OMG).

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

POEtic-Cubes: Self-organizing Art

POEtic-Cubes is a physical installation consisting of 9 autonomous robots which are able to react to stimuli coming from its direct environment. Stimuli are either induced from other robots or come from people interacting with the robots. Although every robot has the same program, different stimuli and interaction with each other leads to an emergent process where the robots self-organize into an overall organism consisting of 9 cells. A similar effect of differentiation of behavior despite of identical programming can be found in the robot soccer example.

Nice art, nice robots, although a bit loud :-)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Evolution as a Tool to Design Self-Organizing Systems

Self-organizing Systems exhibit numerous advantages such as robustness, adaptivity and scalability, and thus provide a solution for the increasing complexity we face within technical systems. While they are attractive solutions, due to their nature, designing self-organizing systems is not a straightforward task. Artificial evolution has been proposed as a possible way to build self-organizing systems, but there are still many open questions on how an engineer should apply this method for this purpose.
Evolutionary design process
We propose a system architecture for evolving self-organizing systems that marks the major cornerstones and decisions the designer has to face:

In particular, the following aspects need to be considered:

Simulation setup:
  • Accuracy/granularity of the simulation?
  • Physical capabilities of the agent + environment
  • How many agents, homogeneous/heterogeneous configuration?
Interaction interface:
  • How should the agent interact with the environment/other agents
  • Number/type of sensors
  • Ability to change the environment (enable stygmergy)
Evolvable decision unit
  • Must be evolvable
  • Smooth search space, not too large
  • Genotype-to-phenotype mapping
Search algorithm
  • There exists literally a zoo on metaheuristic optimization algorihtms (Cuckoo search, Honeybee, Frog leap, Firefly, ...)
  • Ability to find global optimum
  • Number of tweaking parameters?
Objective function
  • Should contribute to a smooth search space
  • Avoid modeling the solution instead of the problem
  • Mapping of multiple objectives (or weighted sum?)
Framework for Evolutionary Design (FREVO)
  • Is a way to implement an evolutionary design task for multi-agent system
  • Needs a simulation of the problem
  • Interface for sensor/actuator connections to the agents
  • Feedback from a simulation run -> objective function
  • Written in Java, runs on multiple platforms including Linux, Mac OS, Windows
  • FREVO is available as open soure at
  • FREVO introduction video including installation, setting up a simulation and running it (length 6 minutes)


Thursday, March 21, 2013

JGridMap - Fast and Easy Visualization of Objects in a Grid

Conway's Game of Life implemented
with JGridMap
Many models for complex systems start with some markings on a piece of squared paper. This is probably the most straightforward approach to depict agents in their environment. However, in order to model a complex system, the cells need to interact, which is hard to implement on paper but easily done with a computer. However, if you, like me, have a favor for Java, then there was no quick way for implementing a cellular automata with graphical visualization. In the end, programmer have spent 90% of the time getting the graphics right and at most 10% remained for the actual model of interest.

After reviewing several frameworks for displaying nice grid structures, we decided there is a need for an easy to use and fast Java library. Our project JGridMap is now about two years old and mature to support you for fast and easy visualization of objects in a grid. With JGridMap you can quickly implement a visualization for cellular automata including proper routines for zooming. Cells can be painted with a selected color or with a picture of your choice, which makes it easy to create attractive visualizations.

JGridMap is available as open source project at under GPLv3.

Examples of projects done with JGridMap:

Langton's Ant simulation:

Vampires vs. Werewolves simulation:

Integrated in the Framework for Evolutionary Design (FREVO):

Graphical engine for a Smart Grid simulator:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Call for Posters 7th International Workshop on Self-organizing Systems IWSOS 2013

IWSOS 2013
7th International Workshop on Self-organizing Systems 
Palma de Mallorca, Spain
May 9-10, 2013

Technical co-sponsors: IFIP TC6 WG6.2, EC FP7 NoE EINS

Poster Abstract Submission Deadline: March 15, 2013

We are looking for submissions of research posters, from both academia and industry, describing research, exciting new research projects, and encouraging preliminary results on self-organizing systems.

** Poster Abstract Submission
The submission should be an extended abstract of two pages in two-column format. All submitted abstracts will undergo a peer review process. Accepted posters must be presented at the conference and will be published electronically in a book (ISBN-indexed) named "Emerging Ideas on Self-Organizing Systems".

Poster abstracts should use the following format:

Poster abstracts can be submitted via:

** Important Dates
Submission deadline: March 31, 2013 extended!
Notification:        March 31, 2013
Camera-ready:        April 15, 2013

** Scope
The main themes of IWSOS 2013 are from the fields of techno-social systems and networks-of-networks with their unique and complex blend of cognitive, social, and technological aspects. We will analyse how these systems self-organize, acquire their structure, and evolve. Thus, we aim to advance our understanding of such key infrastructures in our societies and, more generally, of these sorts of self-organizational processes in nature. We are further interested in learning how to engineer such self-organizing networked systems to have desirable properties including dependability, predictability, and resilience in the face of the inevitable challenges that they face. Building on the success of its predecessors, this multi-disciplinary workshop aims at bringing together leading international researchers from complex systems, distributed systems, and communication networks to create a visionary forum for discussing the future of self-organization in networked systems. We invite the submission of manuscripts that present original research results on the themes of self-organization in techno-social systems and networks-of-networks.

** Key Topics
The workshop scope includes, but is not limited to, the following topical areas of self-organizing systems:
- Design and analysis of self-organizing and self-managing systems
- Inspiring models of self-organization in nature and society
- Structure, characteristics, and dynamics of self-organizing networks
- Self-organization in techno-social systems
- Self-organized social computation
- Self-organized communication systems
- Citizen Science
- Techniques and tools for modeling self-organizing systems
- Tools to quantify self-organization
- Control and control parameters of self-organizing systems
- Phase transitions in self-organizing systems
- Robustness and adaptation in self-organizing systems
- Self-organization in complex networks such as peer-to-peer, sensor,
  ad-hoc, vehicular, and social networks
- Self-organization in socio-economic systems
- User and operator-related aspects of man-made self-organizing systems
- Self-organizing multi-service networks and multi-network services
- Methods for configuration and management of large, complex networks
- Self-protection, self-configuration, diagnosis, and healing
- Self-organizing group and pattern formation
- Self-organizing mechanisms for task allocation, coordination and
  resource allocation
- Self-organizing information dissemination and content search
- Security and safety in self-organizing networked systems
- Risks and limits of self-organization
- The human in the loop of self-organizing networks
- Social, cognitive, and semantic aspects of self-organization
- Evolutionary principles of the (future, emerging) Internet
- Decentralized power management in the smart grid

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Call for Papers 6th Complex Systems Modelling and Simulation Workshop (CoSMoS 2013)

Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Italy
1 day workshop held between 1 - 5 July 2013

SPECIAL ISSUE OF NATURAL COMPUTING JOURNAL: we will be organising a special issue of the Natural Computing journal ( based on the themes raised in the workshop. Suitable workshop submissions will be invited to submit to this special journal issue.

The 6th workshop on Complex Systems Modelling and Simulation (CoSMoS 2013) will take place as a 1-day satellite workshop of the Unconventional Computation and Natural Computation conference ( held between 1st and 5th July at the Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Italy. The CoSMoS workshops series provides a forum for research examining all aspects of the modelling and simulation of complex systems. This year, we will place a special focus on how complex systems simulations can be used to simulate unconventional and natural computation.

Constructing models and simulations of complex systems is a challenging and interdisciplinary task. Elements might include choice of modelling tools and techniques, simulation infrastructures, concurrency, the process of moving from models to simulations, arguing validity of simulations, and the identification of reusable engineering techniques such as patterns. The CoSMoS workshop series continues an initiative, based at the Universities of York and Kent, UK, to develop a framework and infrastructure for the construction of complex systems simulations.

Submitted papers will undergo a rigorous peer-review process and accepted papers will appear in the workshop proceedings published by Luniver Press. Proceedings of the previous CoSMoS workshop are available:


We are seeking submissions that explore aspects of complex systems modelling and simulation, with a special focus on how complex systems simulations can be used to simulate unconventional and natural computation. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

* Complex systems simulation case-studies
* Modelling tools and techniques
* Simulation infrastructures
* Arguing validity of simulations
* Concurrency and distribution techniques
* Identification of reusable engineering techniques
* Working across scientific disciplines


We are accepting both full papers (to be presented orally) and abstracts (to be presented via a poster). Both full papers and abstracts will appear in the workshop proceedings.

For submission via abstract, please submit an abstract not longer than 2 pages of LNCS format that summarises the content of the poster you wish to present. Full papers can be of any length up to a maximum of 25 pages of LNCS format. If you wish to exceed the page limit, or have any other queries, then please email in advance of submission.

LNCS formatting details can be found here:

Papers should be submitted via EasyChair here:


* Paper Submission: 22 March 2013
* Notification of acceptance: 22 April 2013
* Camera ready copies: 6 May 2013
* CoSMoS Workshop: 1 day between 1 - 5 July 2013


* Paul Andrews, Department of Computer Science and York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis, University of York, UK
* Susan Stepney, Department of Computer Science and York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis, University of York, UK

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

You don’t cite me anymore - Scientific publications and the ravages of time

One of the most specific things about scientific literature is that scientific papers and books contain references to other papers. The number of citations has become an indicator for the impact of a result, the more other papers cite an article, the higher is its considered impact.

The number of citations a scientific paper gets is a result of interesting effects and interactions:

First, there is the Matthew effect, also known by the proverb "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" can be observed, where a preferential attachment to larger nodes causing a power-law distribution of node degrees rather than a normal distribution which would be expected for any repeated random experiment with statistically independent trials. Due to this effect the average paper does not get the mean value of all citations, no, it gets close to zero. Most papers do not get more than 5 citations. But a few papers get cited a thousand times or even more often. Models assume that highly cited papers have a better chance of being cited in new papers can explain this behavior and predict a smooth power law distribution for paper citations.

However, to make the model accurate, there is another factor: time.

While the total number of citations for a given paper naturally can only increase over the years, the actual ability of papers to attract further citations dimishes over time - the paper "ages" (see Citation averages, 2000-2010). This applies even to classic papers, for example from Einstein or Hawking, which are no longer cited as they once were.

Matúš Medo and his colleagues from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland developed a model taking this aging factor into account. They found that a paper’s relevance decreases dramatically a few years after its publication.

Especially in our time of instant communication of results, it thus becomes very unlikely that a scientific paper gains in popularity after some time has passed. Sorry to crush your hopes, but if you have a meagerly cited paper now, it most likely won't become more popular in the future ;-)

  1. Matthew Effect. Wikipedia
  2. Matúš Medo, Giulio Cimini, and Stanislao Gualdi.Temporal Effects in the Growth of Networks. Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 2011
  3. W. Elmenreich. Why is it important to get cited?. Self-Organizing Networked Systems Blog. October 2012
  4. Citation averages, 2000-2010, by fields and years. Times Higher Eduction 2011.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Five Misconceptions about Self-Organizing Systems

from W. Elmenreich, H. de Meer. Self-organizing networked systems for technical applications: A discussion on open issues:


Misconception #1: Self-organizing systems establish a class of systems

If a system is considered to be self-organizing or not depends mainly on the way how the system is observed, especially where the borderline between the observed system and its environment is drawn. C. Gershenson and F. Heylighen [1] propose the following perspective to overcome this problem: Instead of thinking of Self-Organizing Systems as an absolute class of systems, self-organization should be understood as a way of observing systems. Depending on the type of problem and the
desired solution, the way of observing a system as an Self-Organizing System can be beneficial or not.


Misconception #2: All Self-organizing systems are chaotic systems

There is a relation between chaos theory and self-organization in that a Self-Organizing System may show chaotic behavior, that is having critical turning points (also known as bifurcations) in the system behavior. However, a Self-Organizing System does not necessarily have to show such behavior. Instead, some Self-Organizing Systems also might approach their target state without a sensitive dependence on initial conditions.
Accordingly, a system with chaotic behavior may be built without employing the typical building blocks of Self-Organizing Systems such as distributed entities and local interactions.


Misconception #3: The emerging structure is a primary property of self-organizing systems

Self-Organizing Systems provide a powerful mechanism to create structure and patterns. This phenomenon can be observed in many physical and biological systems, such as the skin pigmentation of fish, the polygonal pattern of nest territories of fish such as Tilapia, or the cathedral-like buildings of termites.
However, the emerging pattern should not be seen as a primary property of an Self-Organizing System. There are Self-Organizing Systems, like homeostatic operational control in living beings, where such a structure is not present or is hidden from the observer. Thus, the emerging structure can be rather seen as a secondary property that indicate self-organization in many cases.


Misconception #4: Self-organizing systems are always based on evolutionary processes

Evolutionary processes, as best known from biological examples, are an iterative mechanism of change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms from one generation to the next. Evolutionary processes are driven by mutation, selection and recombination.
Many biological examples of self-organizing systems have emerged from an evolutionary process, which made the term self-organization connected to evolution. Thus, the connection of Self-Organizing Systems to evolutionary processes is not an obligatory one, since many non-biological examples of Self-Organizing Systems have developed without an evolutionary process, thus showing the possibility to design self-organizing without an evolutionary process.
However, an interesting research task for future technical systems arises in constructing Self-Organizing Systems, which implement an evolution of their local rules in order to adjust to new situations.


Misconception #5: Any self-organizing system will never need maintenance

Many Self-Organizing Systems show adaptive behavior, which means that they can operate well within a wide range of input parameters. However, that does not imply that a technical Self-Organizing System will have a low maintenance effort. Typically, a complex technical system that must operate over a considerable life time will require maintenance in order to provide its service during system lifetime.
It is an open question if maintenance of a technical system with self-organizing properties will be easier or more complicated to maintain than a traditionally designed technical application. On the one hand, properties like robustness might make it easier to replace parts of the system without disturbing the overall operation, on the other hand, diagnosis and maintenance of an Self-Organizing System might turn out to be more complex than in systems built following a more straightforward approach.

See also:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Results of Advent Programming Contest 2012

Results are now official! Congratulations to all participants!
Rankings are based on the number of solved problems by a participant. If two or more participants have the same number of solutions, they get the same rank but are listed with the fastest one first. The list contains only participants with at least one correct submission.
Name  Solutions Time Category
Alex  24 6986:55:01 school
0xbb  22 5734:25:04 university
RageQuit  22 5797:02:04 university
MichaelLeitgeb  22 6174:29:09 other
veilchen2k  21 5616:59:19 university
Thomas Dittrich  21 5695:26:07 university
dbaeck  21 9437:08:41 university
Fastenbauer  19 5332:22:06 other
GutBlender  18 7727:53:43 university
jenna  16 5967:29:43 other
st  15 2607:41:31 university
sealfin  15 4320:39:58 other
GunnarFarneback  14 2680:56:20 other
Eomund  14 2836:04:09 other
stefan  13 3028:42:50 school

The winner was awarded an Amazon gift card of 100 €, 50 € for category winners and best female programmer. The full ranking for all active participants is available at