The goal of Engineering Emergence in Large-scale Systems (EELS) is to detect beneficial emergent norms in complex systems and promote those norms.

The behaviour of any group of independent, interacting components (agents), whether people in a society or organisation or components of a distributed software system, is challengingly (often unfeasibly) complex to predict. Even where individuals are relatively predictable in their reactions to events, the behaviour of the system as a whole, which emerges from the interaction of those agents, can depend on the timing and sequence of interactions as well as the mutual reactions of those interacting. However, some expectations on behaviour within a system could bring benefits in reaching system goals, particularly because individual agents can plan on the basis of those expectations. One form of expectation is a norm, which here means a regular pattern of behaviour. This could either be explicit and enforced, as in a regulation, or may emerge from system behaviour, often called a social norm. Existing work on the emergence of norms has focused on quite simplistic norms, and little effort has been made to specify how emergent norms could be exploited to a system’s benefit. In this project, we will investigate how to characterise emergent behaviour, and norms in particular, within a multi-agent system, assess their likely impact on the system, and create mechanisms by which emergent norms determined to be beneficial can be explicitly committed to and built upon to improve the system over time.

The EELS project is conducted by King's College London. For more details please contact Simon Miles (simon.miles@kcl.ac.uk), or Chris Haynes (christopher.haynes@kcl.ac.uk).

This material is based upon work supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Air Force Materiel Command, USAF under Award No. FA9550-15-1-0092. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Air Force Materiel Command, USAF.