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Strong Emergence
A code is simply a set of rules used to store and transmit information. It means the symbolic arrangement of elements to encode a certain meaning or content. Examples for codes are the genetic code and "memetic" (or linguistic) codes, ASCII code, machine code, binary code, bytecode, ... Codes and data are the foundation of software and programming. "Code" is used in computer sciences synonymous with source code, machine code or program. In computer programming, the word code refers to instructions to a computer in a programming language.

A code is related to strong forms of emergence, because it can be the connection of two worlds, if it implements the basic blocks of one world in terms of the other. A code can be used to root one system in the other, if it is the gateway and interface between both. It often separates and unites two systems at the same time. The binary code for instance can be understood by hardware and software, and it separates and unites both at the same time.

A protocol is a code for communication in a network. It usually refers to a set of formalized rules that define an exact format for communication between systems over a network, and can be considered as the 'language' spoken between computers to help them exchange information and data. A standard agent communication language like FIPA ACL relies on 'speech act' codes for 'communicative acts' (REQUEST, QUERY, PROPOSE,..).

A code is also the basic requirement for evolution and evolutionary algorithms. In nature, this is usually the genetic code stored in the DNA.


  • Marcello Barbieri, The Organic Codes, Cambridge University Press, 2002, ISBN 0521531004
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