InterJournal Complex Systems, 2069
Status: Accepted
Manuscript Number: [2069]
Submission Date: 20080226
Maximal, Enforced, and Potential Entropy Production: towards an Understanding of Mechanisms for the Generation of Complexity
Author(s): Daniel Polani ,Philippe Capdepuy ,Chrystopher L. Nehaniv

Subject(s): CX.0

Category: Article


The fundamental role of entropy in physics and its relation to the informational state of an observer is well known, and finds its most refined expression in the maximum entropy principle which relates the most unbiased state of an only partly observed system to a description of that very system in terms of thermodynamic equilibrium (e.g. Jaynes, 1957b,a). Recently, there has been increased interest in non-equilibrium systems which have been put forward for some time as key to understand non-trivial dynamics as arising in complex and, ultimately, living systems (Prigogine and Nicolis 1977). For a study of stationary non-equilibrium systems, recent work has emphasized the relevance of the Maximum Entropy Production Principle (Martyushev and Seleznev 2006; Dewar 2005,2003), which revives a very related earlier approach (Filyukov and Karpov 1967). On the other side of the complexity spectrum, in recent work, we have introduced empowerment, a quantity which is related (and sometimes reduces to) the potential maximum entropy production which a physically embedded, but energetically and informationally autonomous agent can impinge on its environment (Klyubin et al. 2005a,b). There are significant indications that this quantity could provide minimal cognitive agents (see e.g. Beer, 1996; Swenson and Turvey, 1991) with intrinsic drives towards ``interesting" and ``relevant" states in the world, as also achieved by a number of methods based on different principles (Kaplan and Oudeyer 2004; Der 2000; Steels 2004; Sporns and Lungarella 2006; Prokopenko et al. 2006; Der et al. 1999). In our work, we explore avenues to understand the relation between the Maximum Entropy Production Principle and the dynamics imposed by the empowerment principle (i.e. potential maximum entropy production) and investigate the role that imposing enforced maximum entropy production could play in such a context. The goal is to move towards bridging the gap between comparatively simple (and ``passive") physical systems and systems that seem to actively acquire increasingly higher levels of organizations (such as would be required by intelligent, or living systems).

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