SCL: An Artificial Chemistry in Swarm

McMullin, Barry. “SCL: An artificial chemistry in Swarm.” Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA: Santa Fe Institute, 1997.

This report describes the SCL (v0.04) system. This is an implementation of an artificial chemistry, using the Swarm1 simulation system. This chemistry is qualitatively based on the system first described in Varela, Maturana & Uribe (1974). This involves three distinct chemical species: Substrate, Catalyst and Link, hence SCL. It was designed with a view to generating simple phenomena of autopoietic organisation. Varela et al. included a detailed algorithmic account of their original model; however, as documented in (McMullin 1997), there are a number of problems with interpreting and/or re-implementing that algorithm. Arising from this, that original algorithm was essentially set aside in designing SCL; instead, SCL seeks to capture only the general, qualitative, reaction schemes described by Varela et al. SCL was developed for two separate purposes. Firstly, it provides a platform to critically re-evaluate the phenomena—particularly autopoietic phenomena—that can be realised with this general kind of reaction scheme. That phenomenological investigation will be described in a separate report. The second objective was to gain experience of the Swarm simulation system and evaluate its suitability for this kind of project. This report is concerned solely with this second objective: i.e. with documenting the implementation, and with evaluating the use of Swarm.

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