Emergence in the Loop: Simulating the two-way dynamics of norm innovation

The main objective of this project is to understand and develop design strategies able to cope with the complex 2-way dynamics of sociality, consisting of emergent and immergent processes: from interaction among individual agents to aggregate level, and immergence of entities (norms) at the aggregate level into agents' minds.

In particular, we plan to focus on norm innovation. As research priorities, beside dealing with incompleteness and uncertainty, we intend to contribute to the understanding and description of hierarchic systems by describing agents acting on multiple, i.e. individual, communitarian and institutional levels.

As to understanding of distributed processes in IT, the project is aimed at modelling the interactive, bidirectional processes of emergence.

A summary of main theoretical goals is:

  • understand and manage complexity in social systems with autonomous agents;
  • understand how new conventions and norms emerge and spread in these systems;
  • study of norm innovation by means of agent-based simulation.

The main technological aim of the project is to construct a simulator for exploring and experimenting upon norm-innovation.

Concerning the applicative side, we intend to contribute to the regulation of e-communities by handing out a simulator for the emergence of new norms in complex social systems, where situated experiments can be run. While the simulator will be designed as a general-purpose tool, a specific study case will be selected as so to provide the necessary grounding parameters.

Work packages and deliverables under the responsibility of the Koblenz partner

Work package 3: EMIL-S, the simulator


  • D3.1 Draft of requirement analysis: preliminary analysis of the requirements of the simulator needed for the purposes defined in WP1 and WP2, together with an evaluation of existing software which might be (partially re-used), presented as a text document on a low level of formalisation. Due after 11 months, delivered after twelve months, together with a report on the discussion of this paper with WP1 and WP2.
  • D3.2 Formal requirements analysis: final document which describes the requuirements of the simulator more formally and written according to current standards of the requirements engineering process in software engineering. Due after 14 months, delivered after 24 months.
  • D3.3 Simulator design: formal description of the simulator, of template agents and of the graphical user interface, both for model and data input as well as for simulation results output, written as text with all necessary UML diagrams, class hierarchy. Draft due after 16 months, to be discussed with other project members, final version due after 18 months, delivered after 24 months together with a report on the discussion of this document.
  • D3.4 Simulator implementation: first prototype of the simulator, documented according to common standards (depending on which tools are used to build the simulator, this could be a complete JavaDoc). The protoype will allow some first simulation (with a restricted scope, perhaps still with a restricted user interface and/or with a restricted choice of template agents). Due after 20 months, delivered after 24 months.
  • D3.5 Simulator implementation: first stable version of the simulator, documentd as above, with the full scope of the required features. Due after 26 months, delivered at the end of the project.
  • D3.6 Testing, maintenance, quality assurance: the necessary testing protocols and procedures for software maintenance will be issued, documentation quality control will be performed. Final version of user manual due after 28 months, delivered at the end of the project.

Official website


Related project with participation from Koblenz

TAGora – semiotic dynamics in online social communities, page of the Koblenz group

Project Members

Former Members


  1. Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione – Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Rome, Italy
  2. Universität Bayreuth, Institut für Philosophie, Bayreuth, Germany
  3. University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom
  4. Universität Koblenz-Landau, Koblenz, Germany
  5. Manchester Metropolitan University, Centre for Policy Modeling, Manchester, United Kingdom
  6. AITIA International Informatics Inc., Budapest, Hungary


EU, 6th Framework, Information System Technologies, FP6-2005-IST-5 / IST-2005-2.3.4 / 033841


September 2006 till August 2009