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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Personal computing: simple complexity and COMDEX


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One of today's emerging paradigms is the view that complex behavior or form can emerge from the interaction of relatively simple components, if you have enough of them and they have enough time to do whatever they do. The emergent behavior or form might seem systematic or chaotic. Some examples are neural nets, cellular automata, fractals, electronic mail networks, market economies, whirlpools, and snowflakes. Years ago, similar systems were often called self-organizing, and they were found in models of memory, pattern recognition, multilevel stores, and libraries. The area languished, however, awaiting the development of theory and powerful hardware. Personal workstations played an important role in facilitating experimentation and mass market personal computers are now up to the task.

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