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Analogy-Making as a Complex Adaptive System


  • Melanie Mitchell


This paper describes a computer program, called Copycat, that models how people make analogies. It might seem odd to include such a topic in a collection of papers mostly on the immune system. However, the immune system is one of many systems in nature in which a very large collection of relatively simple agents, operating with no central control and limited communication among themselves, collectively produce highly complex, coordinated, and adaptive behavior. Other such systems include the brain, colonies of social insects, economies, and ecologies. The general study of how such emergent adaptive behavior comes about has been called the study of "complex adaptive systems". The Copycat program is meant to model human cognition, and its major contribution is to show how a central aspect of cognition can be modeled as the kind of decentralized, distributed complex system described above. In doing so it proposes principles that I believe are common to all complex adaptive systems, and that are particularly relevant to the study of immunology. Copycat was developed by Douglas Hofstadter and myself, and has been described previously in [3, 10, 11, 16, 17]. This paper summarizes these earlier works, and makes explicit links to the immune system.

Suggested Citation

  • Melanie Mitchell, 2000. "Analogy-Making as a Complex Adaptive System," Working Papers 00-04-024, Santa Fe Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:safiwp:00-04-024

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1989. "On Money as a Medium of Exchange," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 927-954, August.
    2. Hehenkamp, Burkhard, 2002. "Sluggish Consumers: An Evolutionary Solution to the Bertrand Paradox," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 44-76, July.
    3. Per Bak & Simon F. Norrelykke & Martin Shubik, 1998. "The Dynamics of Money," Research in Economics 98-11-102e, Santa Fe Institute.
    4. Stanley, Michael H. R. & Buldyrev, Sergey V. & Havlin, Shlomo & Mantegna, Rosario N. & Salinger, Michael A. & Eugene Stanley, H., 1995. "Zipf plots and the size distribution of firms," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 453-457, October.
    5. Burkhard Hehenkamp & Wolfgang Leininger, 1999. "A note on evolutionary stability of Bertrand equilibrium," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 367-371.
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    Analogy; perception; cognition; immune system.;

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