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The study of self-organizing systems has now reached the tool-building phase, in which a new discipline of self-managing systems engineering can begin to emerge. The next step is to refine the principles of self-organization into a system of composable parts suitable for engineering - much as components such as capacitors, transistors, and resistors capture electromagnetism principles for electronic engineering. We've begun the process of transforming the science into an engineering discipline in the domain of sensor/actuator network applications, observing that in many applications the deployed network approximates a physical space and that the space, rather than the network, is being programmed. This observation lets us use the amorphous medium abstraction to decouple self-management problems. So, global behavior descriptions in our Proto language can be compiled automatically into locally executed code that produces emergent phenomena matching the global description. We've experimentally verified our code both in simulation and (for small programs) on a network of sensor/actuator nodes called Mica2 motes.
Date of Publication: March-April 2006