Optimal modularity: A demonstration of the evolutionary advantage of modular architectures
AbstractModularity is an important concept in evolutionary theorizing but lack of a consistent definition renders study difficult. Using the generalised NK-model of fitness landscapes, we differentiate modularity from decomposability. Modular and decomposable systems are both composed of subsystems but in the former these subsystems are connected via interface standards while in the latter subsystems are completely isolated. We derive the optimal level of modularity, which minimises the time required to globally optimise a system, both for the case of two-layered systems and for the general case of multi-layered hierarchical systems containing modules within modules. This derivation supports the hypothesis of modularity as a mechanism to increase the speed of evolution. Our formal definition clarifies the concept of modularity and provides a framework and an analytical baseline for further research.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS) in its series Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS) working paper series with number 11-03.
Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision: Jun 2011
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Web page: http://ecis.ieis.tue.nl/
Modularity; Decomposability; Near-decomposability; Complexity; NK-model; Search; hierarchy;
Other versions of this item:
- Koen Frenken & Stefan Mendritzki, 2012. "Optimal modularity: a demonstration of the evolutionary advantage of modular architectures," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 22(5), pages 935-956, November.
- D20 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - General
- D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search, Learning, and Information
- L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production
- O31 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Technological Change; Research and Development; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
- O32 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Technological Change; Research and Development; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2011-06-25 (All new papers)
- NEP-CMP-2011-06-25 (Computational Economics)
- NEP-HME-2011-06-25 (Heterodox Microeconomics)
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