Coherent information structure in complex computation

Joseph T. Lizier*, Mikhail Prokopenko, Albert Y. Zomaya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


We have recently presented a framework for the information dynamics of distributed computation that locally identifies the component operations of information storage, transfer, and modification. We have observed that while these component operations exist to some extent in all types of computation, complex computation is distinguished in having coherent structure in its local information dynamics profiles. In this article, we conjecture that coherent information structure is a defining feature of complex computation, particularly in biological systems or artificially evolved computation that solves human-understandable tasks. We present a methodology for studying coherent information structure, consisting of state-space diagrams of the local information dynamics and a measure of structure in these diagrams. The methodology identifies both clear and "hidden" coherent structure in complex computation, most notably reconciling conflicting interpretations of the complexity of the Elementary Cellular Automata rule 22.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-203
Number of pages11
JournalTheory in Biosciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cellular automata
  • Coherent structure
  • Complex systems
  • Emergence
  • Information storage
  • Information structure
  • Information theory
  • Information transfer
  • Self-organization
  • Transfer entropy


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