Opening Lecture

Coherence, complexity and creativity

Fortunato Tito Arecchi

Dept. of Physics, University of Firenze, Homepage: www.inoa,it/home/arecchi

Up to 1960 in order to have a coherent source of light it was necessary to filter out a noisy regular lamp. Instead, the laser realizes the dream of shining a vacuum state of the electromagnetic field with a classical antenna, thus inducing a coherent state as a translated version of the vacuum state ,with a minimum quantum uncertainty.

As a fact, the laser reaches its coherent state through a threshold transition ,starting from a regular incoherent source. Accurate photon statistics measurements proved the coherence quality of the laser as well the threshold transition phenomena ,both in stationary and transient situations.

The threshold is the first of a chain of dynamical bifurcations; in the 1980’s the successive bifurcations leading to deterministic chaos were explored. Among the chaotic scenarios, the so called HC (Heteroclinic chaos), consisting of trains of equal spikes with erratic interspike separation, was explored in CO2 and in diode lasers with feedback. It looks as the best implementation of a time code: indeed, networks of coupled HC systems may reach a state of collective synchronization lasting for a finite time, in presence of a suitable external input. This opens powerful analogies with the feature binding phenomenon characterizing neuron organization in a perceptual task.

Thus ,synchronization of a chain of chaotic lasers is a promising tool of a physics of cognition.

Exploration of a complex situation would require a very large amount of time. In cognitive tasks facing a complex scenario, our strategy consists in converging to a decision within a finite short time. Any conscious perception (we define conscious as that eliciting a decision) requires 300 msec, whereas the loss of information in a chaotic train of neural spikes takes a few msec.

The interaction of a bottom-up signal (external stimulus) with a top-down change of the control parameters ( induced by the semantic memory) leads to a collective synchronization lasting 300 msec: this is the indicator of a conscious perception. The operation is a control of chaos, and it has an optimality ; if it lasts less than 300msec, no decisions emerge, if it lasts much longer, there is no room for sequential cognitive tasks. We call creativity this optimal control of neuronal chaos.



Decomposition of systems and complexity

Mario R. Abram

AIRS (Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sui Sistemi), Milano, Italy

Recalling the decomposition methodology, the complexity of the decomposition process is described. The complexity of a system is connected with the depth reached in the decomposition process. In particular the number of subsystems and the number of active relations present in a decomposition are the elements used to define a complexity index. Some considerations about the decompositions sequences allow to put in evidence some basic properties useful to define the minimum and maximum values of complexity. Given some hypotheses about the relation patterns due to the starting steps in the decomposition process the range for each decomposition level is evaluated. In addition some connections with other knowledge contexts, as graph theory, are presented.

Keywords: decomposition, subsystem, complexity, graph theory,


ISSues on critical infrastructures

Mario R. Abram, Marino Sforna

CESI RICERCA S.p.A.,Via Rubattino 54 - 20134 Milano, Italy, E-mail: mario.abram@cesiricerca.it
TERNA S.p.A., Via Arno 64 - 00198 Roma, Italy, E-mail:

In the last decades, the interactions between the infrastructures of a country gained increasing importance and consequently people started to acquire consciousness of their mutual interdependencies. This situation became evident in the last years when a number of great blackouts occurred in U.S.A. and in Europe, when large portions of the electric power system collapsed and pulled other infrastructures to collapse.

A brief description of critical infrastructures is developed, recalling some properties as safety, security, emergency, vulnerability and stability. Then the implications of these considerations in control actions are briefly evaluated. The need to build a reference model useful to analyze and to simulate the phenomena connected with critical infrastructures is discussed.

Investigating these concepts as the "emergence of properties" may be a chance; this point of view may be useful to identify and to evaluate a "systemic approach" to deal with critical infrastructures problems. Some remarks about the complexity of the problems involved in managing the interaction between critical infrastructures are reported.

A brief description of critical infrastructures is developed, recalling some properties as safety, security, emergency, vulnerability and stability. Then the implications of these considerations in control actions are briefly evaluated. The need to build a reference model useful to analyze and to simulate the phenomena connected with critical infrastructures is discussed.

Investigating these concepts as the "emergence of properties" may be a chance; this point of view may be useful to identify and to evaluate a "systemic approach" to solve critical infrastructures problems. Some remarks about the complexity of the problems involved in managing the interaction between critical infrastructures are reported.

Keywords: infrastructure, critical infrastructure, interaction, control, security, criticality.


Role variables vs contextual variables
in the theory of didactic systems

Monica Alberti, Lucia Cirina, Francesco Paoli

Dept. of Education, University of Cagliari, Via Is Mirrionis 1, 09123 Cagliari, Italy

Partisans of the constructivist approach to mathematics education, such as Brousseau or Chevallard, developed an accurate theoretical framework in which didactical systems are viewed in a systemic perspective. What they somewhat fail to draw, however, is a sharp distinction between role variables - concerning the roles played in the didactical interaction by the individual elements of the system (Student-Teacher-Knowledge) - and contextual variables - concerning the action on the learning process of the system as a whole.

Our research in progress on 2nd graders' word problem solving strategies applies the previous dichotomy to class management strategies adopted by teachers. Partial evidence collected so far points to the tentative conclusion according to which, contextual variables being equal, differences in teaching styles and methods may deeply reshape the role component of didactical systems. If we take into careful account this distinction, we can shed additional light into some hitherto unexplained phenomena observed in the literature.

Keywords: System theory, didactic systems, mathematics education, constructivism, teaching methods, teaching styles.



Paolo Allievi *, Alberto Trotta**

*SOGIN SpA, via Torino 6, 00184 Roma, Italy; allievi@sogin.it
**Liceo scientifico Innocenzo XII, Via Ardeatina 87, 00042 Anzio (RM), Italy;

The behaviour of coherent structures emerging as outcome of a phase transition can be ruled by classical or by quantum laws. The latter circumstance depends in a critical way on the relative importance of quantum fluctuations which, in turn, depends on the numerical value of Planck’s constant. Usually people assume the latter as a universal constant, whose value is very small. It is, however, worthwhile to explore the consequences of the hypothesis according to which there are different kinds of Planck’s constant, each one related to the kind of interaction entering into play in the specific phase transition. Would this be the case, the whole theory of emergence should be reformulated. Within this paper we dealt with the simplest case, in which we have only two Planck’s constants: the usual one, interpreted as related to electromagnetic interactions, and another, related to gravitational interactions. In order to keep the theory as simple as possible, we adopted a semiclassical description, based on a heuristic corpuscular model of long range interactions, which let us find the numerical value of the “gravitational” Planck’s constant, as well as give a more correct estimate of frequency of gravitational waves. We feel this framework should be useful to describe cosmological phase transitions, such as galaxy and star formation, as well as the birth of black holes. According to our hypotheses, these emerging coherent structures should be ruled by suitable quantum laws (expressed, for instance, by a suitable kind of Schrödinger equation), including a “gravitational” Planck’s constant. We found even a more general formula to compute the value of the associated Planck’s constant for whatever kind of long range interaction, provided it be described by a corpuscular model. Even if the present paper deals with the particular case of gravitational interactions, it seems that its methodology could be useful even to study other kinds of emergent phenomena.

Keywords: Planck’s constant, gravitational interaction, corpuscular models, gravitational waves.


Burnout and Job Engagement in Emergency and Intensive Care Nurses

Piergiorgio Argentero, Bianca Dell’Olivo

Department of Psychology, University of Pavia, Piazza Botta 6, Pavia, Italy
piergiorgio.argentero@unipv.it, Tel.: +39 0382 986452; Fax: +39 0382 986276

Burnout phenomenon emerges from a constellation of factors which cannot be described in terms of causer-effect relationships. It therefore appears as a sort of emergent construct arising as the outcome of some kind of personal transitional change. This study investigated levels of burnout in nurses working in Critical Care Units with a systemic approach, giving evidence of relation between nurses staff burnout and psychosocial workplace factors. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between job burnout in emergency and intensive care nurse with specific areas of work life in their organizations, using Maslach and Leiter work life model (Maslach and Leiter, 1997). A cross-sectional survey was designed using the Italian version of the “Organizational Checkup System” in a sample of 180 Italian nurses.

Results showed that high burnout levels were strongly related to high demands, low control, low fairness, lack of social support, and individual disagreement on values in the workplace. High professional efficacy levels were instead correlated to professional reward and leadership involvement.

The article concludes by suggesting the possible areas for intervention in order to prevent job burnout and building job engagement. Namely, even if we still lack a consistent model of burnout phenomenon viewed as a kind of phase transition, the conclusions reached in this study allow to design some strategies in order to control it.

Keywords: critical care nursing staff, job burnout, emergence, systems.


Organizational climate assessment: a systemic perspective

Piergiorgio Argentero and Ilaria Setti

Department of Psychology, University of Pavia, Piazza Botta 6, Pavia, Italy
ilaria.setti@unipv.it, Tel.: +39 0382 986452; Fax: +39 0382 986276

A number of studies showed how the set up of an involving and motivating work environment represents a source for organizational competitive advantage: in this view organizational climate (OC) research occupies a preferred position in current I/O psychology. The present study is a review carried out to establish the breadth of the literature on the characteristics of OC assessment considered in a systemic perspective. An organization with a strong climate is a work environment whose members have similar understanding of the norms and practices and share the same expectations.

OC should be considered as a sort of emergent entity and, as such, it can be studied only within a systemic perspective because it is linked with some organizational variables, in terms of antecedents (such as the organization’s internal structure and its environmental features) and consequences (such as job performance, psychological well-being and withdrawal) of the climate itself. In particular, when employees have a positive view of their organizational environment, consistently with their values and interests, they are more likely to identify their personal goals with those of the organization and, in turn, to invest a greater effort to pursue them: the employees’ perception of the organizational environment is positively related to the key outcomes such as job involvement, effort and performance.

OC analysis could also be considered as an effective Organizational Development (OD) tool: in particular, the Survey Feedback, that is the return of the OC survey results, could be an effective instrument to assess the efficacy of specific OD programs, such as Team Building, TQM and Gainsharing.

The present study is focused on the interest to investigate all possible variables which are potential moderators of the climate - outcome relationship: therefore future researches in the OC field should consider a great variety of organizational variables, considered in terms of antecedents and effects of OC, and OC studies should be conducted as cross-level and multilevel researches.

Keywords: organizational climate, assessment, systemic models.


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Emergency Workers:
Risk factors and Treatment

Piergiorgio Argentero, Bianca Dell’Olivo and Ilaria Setti

Department of Psychology, University of Pavia, Piazza Botta 6, Pavia, Italy
ilaria.setti@unipv.it, Tel.: +39 0382 986452; Fax: +39 0382 986276

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be considered as a prototype of emergent processes occurring within the cognitive-affective system of an individual. Namely it is not produced by a direct and concomitant external stimulation, but results from exposure to a previous traumatic event that causes actual or threatened death or injury and produces intense fear, helplessness, or horror. The nature of this phenomenon prevents from studying and modeling it through usual methodologies adopted for phase transitions in physical systems. All we can do is to undergo observational studies of correlational kind, able at least to detect the possible influence factors. In this regard, in this contribution prevalence rates across gender, cultures, and samples exposed to different traumas have been examined. Risk factors for PTSD, including pre-existing individual-based factors, features of the traumatic event, and post-trauma interventions have been examined as well. Several characteristics of trauma, related to cognitions, post-trauma social support and therapeutic interventions for PTSD have been also considered. Further work is needed in order to analyze the inter-relationships among these factors and underlying mechanisms. The chaotic nature of traumatic processes, the multiple and interactive impacts on traumatic events require a comprehensive perspective aimed at planning effective interventions. Treatment outcome studies recommended the combined use of training and therapies as first-line treatment for PTSD.

Keywords: post traumatic stress disorder, risk factors, interventions.


Questions of method on interoperability in architecture

Ezio Arlati, Giorgio Giallocosta

BEST - Building Enviromment Sciences and Tecnology, Politecnico di Milano, Via Bonardi n. 15, 20133 Milan
DIPARC - Dipartimento di Progettazione e Costruzione dell’Architettura,
Università di Genova, Stradone S. Agostino n. 37, 16123 Genoa

Interoperability in architecture illustrates contemporary instances of innovation. It aims, through the standardisation of instruments and procedures (and especially through shared languages of/in IT tools and applications), at the optimisation of interactions amongst agents and the work done.

It requires, within a consistently non-reductionist systemic approach:

- interactions and activities of conscious government in/amongst its fundamental component parts (politics, technical aspects, semantics);

- development of shared languages and protocols, to verify technical, poietic, etc., innovations which do not destroy accumulative effects and peculiarities (axiological, fruitional, etc.).

Keywords: systemics, architecture, innovation, sharing, interoperability


Conflict in relationships and perceived support
in innovative work behavior

Adalgisa Battistelli *, Patrizia Picci **, Carlo Odoardi ***

* Dipartimento di Psicologia e Antropologia Culturale - Università di Verona, adalgisa.battistelli@univr.it
** Dipartimento di Psicologia e Antropologia Culturale, Università di Verona
***Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università di Firenze, carlo.odoardi@unifi.it

In recent years, the idea that innovation is one of the determining factors in the efficacy and survival of organizations has been strongly consolidated. Individuals and groups within the various organizations undertake specific creative activities with the express intention of deriving direct benefits from the changes with regard to the generational phase of ideas. Innovative Work Behavior (IWB) is a complex behavioral pattern which consists of a set of three different tasks, namely, idea generation, idea promotion and idea realization (Scott & Bunce, 1994).

Research literature on innovation considers numerous contextual factors as important predictors in innovative behavior (Anderson, De Dreu, Nijstad, 2004). In particular, the support that an organization gives to its members in terms of direct support for and listening to and encouraging various initiatives, undertaken by said members, leads to a greater emotional attachment to the company and hence to better performance of in-role and extra-role (Scott and Bunce, 1994). The introduction of innovation in the workplace is however all too often linked to conflicting situations.

The task-related conflict, understood as an expression of disagreement and negative comparison between members of the same organization, as regards problems linked to the task in hand, appears to be a determining factor in the generation of ideas and creative solutions (Janssen, Vliert and West, 2004). On the other hand, recent research indicates conflict as a negative consequence of innovative behavior and as such may actually inhibit the adoption of further new behaviors(Janssen, 2003).

Considering the scant attention that has been paid to date to the potentially different role of antecedent factors in the various phases of innovative behavior, the aim of the present work was to examine the combined conflicting and supportive roles on innovation within the three stages of IWB.

In terms of the realization phase, a positive influence from conflicting and supportive roles on innovation may be hypothesized (1); a negative influence from conflicting in the phases of idea promotion e idea realization (2); a positive influence from support for innovation is exercised in the phase of idea promotion and idea realization (2).

The results obtained from a sample of 110 Public/State Elementary Schoolteachers partially confirm the hypotheses.

Keywords: innovation, innovative work behavior, organizational support, antecedents of innovation.


Contextual Analysis – a Multiperspective Inquiry into Emergence of Complex Socio-cultural Systems

Peter M. Bednar,

School of Computing, University of Portsmouth, UK;
Department of Informatics, Lund University, Sweden.

This paper explores the concept of organizations as complex human activity systems, through the perspectives of alternative systemic models. The impact of alternative models on perception of individual and organizational emergence is highlighted. Using information systems development as an example of management activity, individual and collective sense-making and learning processes are discussed. Their roles in relation to information systems concepts are examined. The main focus of the paper is on individual emergence in the context of organizational systems. A case is made for the importance of attending to individual uniqueness and contextual dependency when carrying out organizational analyses, e.g. information systems analysis. One particular method for contextual inquiry, the framework for Strategic Systemic Thinking, is then introduced. The framework supports stakeholders to own and control their own analyses. This approach provides a vehicle through which multiple levels of contextual dependencies can be explored and allows for individual emergence to develop.

Keywords: Strategic Systemic Thinking, Contextual Analysis, Individual Emergence, Contextual Dependency.


Downward Causation and Relatedness in Emergent Systems: Epistemological Remarks

Leonardo Bich

CE.R.CO. - Center for Research on the Anthropology and Epistemology of Complexity,
University of Bergamo,
Piazzale S. Agostino 2, 24129 Bergamo, Italy

In this article we analyse the problem of downward causation in emergent systems. Our thesis, based on constructivist epistemological remarks, is that downward causation in synchronic emergence cannot be characterized by a direct causal role of the whole on the parts, as these levels belong to two different epistemological domains, but by the way the components are related: that is by their organization. According to these remarks downward causation, considered as relatedness, can be re-expressed as the non-coincidence of the operations of analysis and synthesis performed by the observer on the system.

Keywords: Emergence; Downward Causation; Organization; (M,R)-Systems; Constructivism.


Organizations as cognitive systems.
Is knowledge an emergent property of information networks?

Lucio Biggiero

University of L’Aquila, Piazza del Santuario 19, Roio Poggio, 67040, Italy
biggiero@ec.univaq.it, Tel: +39 0862 434880, Fax: + 39 0862 484842;
LUISS University, email:

The substitution of knowledge to information as the entity that organizations process and deliver raises a number of questions concerning the nature of knowledge. The dispute on the codifiability of tacit knowledge and that juxtaposing the epistemology of practice vs. the epistemology of possession can be better faced by revisiting two crucial debates.

One concerns the nature of cognition and the other the famous mind-body problem. Cognition can be associated with the capability of manipulating symbols, like in the traditional computational view of organizations, interpreting facts or symbols, like in the narrative approach to organization theory, or developing mental states (events), like argued by the growing field of organizational cognition. Applied to the study of organizations, the mind-body problem concerns the possibility (if any) and the forms in which organizational mental events, like trust, identity, cultures, etc., can be derived from the structural aspects (technological, cognitive or communication networks) of organizations. By siding in extreme opposite positions, the two epistemologies appear irreducible one another and pay its own inner consistency with remarkable difficulties in describing and explaining some empirical phenomena. Conversely, by legitimating the existence of both tacit and explicit knowledge, by emphasizing the space of human interactions, and by assuming that mental events can be explained with the structural aspects of organizations, Nonaka’s SECI model seems an interesting middle way between the two rival epistemologies.

Keywords: cognition, emergent properties, knowledge, mental states, organization.


Emergent effects of task interdependence and bounded rationality
on workgroup performance -
results from an agent-based simulation model

Lucio Biggiero1,2, Enrico Sevi 2

1 LUISS University, Via O. Tommasini 1, Roma, 00162, Italy -
Tel: +39 06 86506555, Fax: + 39 06 86506513, E-mail:
2 University of L’Aquila, Piazza del Santuario 19, Roio Poggio, 67040, Italy
Tel: +39 0862 434880, Fax: + 39 0862 484842, E-mail:

Though the question of the determinants of workgroup performance is one of the most central in organization science, precise theoretical frameworks and formal demonstrations are still missing. Empirical tests from field research gives only episodic and often inconclusive results. Moreover, emergent (unpredictable) results are hard to be found (and even more to be explained) with empirical investigations. In order to fill in this gap an agent-based simulation model is here used to study the emergent effects of task interdependence and bounded rationality on workgroup performance. The fundamental modes of connection (types of systemic couplings) between tasks are formalized and operationalized through the simulation model. Following both the formalization and simulation experiments is demonstrated that the parallel mode is the most simplex, followed by the sequential and then by the reciprocal. This result is far from being new in organization science, but what is remarkable is that now it has the strength of an algorithmic demonstration instead of being based on the authoritativeness of some scholar or on some episodic empirical finding. Workgroup performance is measured by means of two main indexes: effectiveness, which refers to the percentage of completed tasks respect to those potentially executable; and efficiency, which refers to the resources employed for getting the completed tasks. A set of six norms have been introduced in order to coordinate group members. They are required for reaching a satisfying performance, and they lead to a confirmation of the law of requisite variety: complex interdependencies do require complex norms. The acknowledgment of agents’ bounded rationality dramatically reduces workgroup performance and addresses to a rather emergent result: when agents’ rationality is severely bounded simple norms work better than complex norms.

Keywords: agent-based models, bounded rationality, law of requisite variety, task interdependence, workgroup performance.



Natale Bonfiglio, Simone Percivalle, Eliano Pessa

Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università di Pavia
Piazza Botta 6, 27100 Pavia, Italy

According to Evolutionary Game Theory decision making in games with incomplete information should be viewed as an emergent phenomenon. However, the adoption of this framework tells us nothing about the concrete modelling of the emergence of decisions within specific games. In this paper we took into consideration the case of Iterated Prisoner Dilemma Game (IPDG). In this regard we compared the outcomes of computer simulations of three different decision making models, two of which implemented through particular neural network architectures, with experimental data coming from observations about the behaviour in IPDG of human players. The comparison was based on the use of a Genetic Algorithm, which let us know the best parameter values, for each kind of model, granting for the best reproduction of the observed pattern of experimental data. We found that the best fit was obtained by a model directly taking into account the inner expectancies of each player. This result suggests that the emergence of decision cannot be described by resorting to the simplest models of self-organization. More complex models are needed, including a detailed account of the operation of player’s cognitive system.

Keywords: Iterated Prisoner Dilemma Game; decision making; expectancy; neural networks; genetic algorithms.



Véronique Bouchard, Ph.D.

EM Lyon, 23 av. Guy de Collongue, 69132 Ecully cedex, France
Tel.: +33 4 78 33 79 81, E-mail:

Confronted with fast changing technologies and markets and with increasing competition pressures, firms are now required to innovate fast and continuously. In order to do so, several firms superpose an intrapreneurial layer (IL) to their formal organization (FO). The two systems are in complex relations: the IL is embedded in the FO, sharing human, financial and technical components, but strongly diverges from it when it comes to representation, structure, values and behavior of shared components. Furthermore, the two systems simultaneously cooperate and compete. In the long run, one observes that the organizational dynamic usually ends to the detriment of the intrapreneurial layer, which remain marginal or regress after an initial period of boom. The concepts of Multiple Systems and Collective Beings, proposed by Minati and Pessa, can help students of the firm adopt a different viewpoint on this issue and tackle it differently. These concepts can help them move away from a rigid, Manichean view of the two systems’ respective functionalities and roles towards a more fluid and elaborate vision of their relations, allowing for greater flexibility and coherence.

Keywords: Innovation, Organization, Intrapreneurship, Models, Multiple Systems, Collective Beings.


Uncertainty, Coherence, Emergence

Giordano Bruno

Dept. MEMOMAT, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy, E-mail: bigi@dmmm.uniroma1.it

Sembrerebbe pertanto naturale che i modi abituali di pensare,

di ragionare, di decidere, dovessero esplicitamente e

sistematicamente imperniarsi sul fattore incertezza come

sull’elemento concettualmente preminente e determinante.

Bruno de Finetti , Teoria delle probabilità, Einaudi, 1970

In a previous paper (Uncertainty and the Role of the Observer, co-authored with G. Minati and A. Trotta, Proceedings of the 2004 Conference of the Italian Systems Society in publication by Springer), we focused on the deep epistemological contribution of the Italian mathematician Bruno de Finetti (1906 - 1985), from a systemic point of view. He considered probability of an event nothing but the degree of believe of the observer in its occurring, relating this degree of believe to the information available, in this moment, to the observer. He pointed out how, when considering probability, we need to focus on the role of the observer expressing the degree of believe and as S/He can construct a system of coherent probabilities. The purpose of the paper is to show how this subjective conception of probability is based on assuming a systemic framework, even in case on conditional events. At this regard, we underline how the fundamental conceptual and methodological tool is the well-known Bayes Theorem. Making reference to this theorem, we will introduce examples to show how its usage is not only crucial in generating probabilities suitable for the emerging of a system of coherent evaluations, but even able to explain some paradoxical aspect.



Architectural Phenomena and the Human Habitation of Space

Arne Collen, Ph.D.

Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center
747 Front Street, San Francisco, CA 94133 USA

This paper draws upon architecture, design, phenomenology, systemics, art and human-oriented sciences to discuss impact on human beings and human activities of architectural decisions in the design of space for human habitation. Attention is given to phenomena of architectural induction, emergence, and convergence as having planful and explanatory value.

Keywords: Architecture, convergence, design, emergence, human sciences, induction, systemics, transdisciplinarity


Different Approaches to Semantics in Knowledge Representation

S. David, A. Montesanto, and C. Rocchi

DEIT – Università Politecnica delle Marche

There are different approaches to model a computational system, each providing a different Semantics. We present a comparison between different approaches to Semantics with the aim of identifying which peculiarities are needed to provide a system with a uniquely interpretable Semantics. We discuss different approaches, namely Description Logics, Artificial Neural Networks, and Databases, and we identify classification (the process of building a taxonomy) as a common trait. However, in this paper we also argue that classification is not enough to provide a system with a Semantics, which emerges only when relations between classes are established and used among instances. Our contribution also analyzes additional features of the formalisms that distinguish the approaches: closed vs. open world assumption, dynamic vs. static nature, the management of knowledge, and the learning process. We particularly focus on the open/closed world assumption, providing real world modeling examples to highlight the differences, and the consequences of one choice vs. the other. We also consider an important difference: in symbolic systems the notion of Semantics is ‘declared’ by means of axioms, rules, or constraints, whereas in subsymbolic ones the notion of Semantics emerges according to the evolution of a modeling system.



Comprehensive plans for a culture–driven local development: emergence as a tool for understanding social impacts
of projects on built cultural heritage

Della Torre S.

Politecnico di Milano - Dipartimento Building Environment Science and Technology – BEST



Environment and architecture – a paradigm shift

Valerio Di Battista

Politecnico di Milano - Dipartimento Building Environment Science and Technology – BEST

The interaction of human cultures and the built environment allows a wide range of interpretations and has been studied inside the domain of many disciplines. This paper discusses three interpretations descending from a systemic approach to the question:

- architecture as an “emergence” of the settlement system;

- place (and space) as an “accumulator” of time and a “flux” of systems;

- landscape as one representation/description of the human settlement.

Architecture emerges as a new physical conformation or layout, or as a change in a specific site, arising from actions and representations of political, religious, economical or social powers, being shaped at all times by the material culture belonging to a specific time and place in the course of human evolution.

Any inhabited space becomes over time a place as well as a landscape, i.e. a representation of the settlement and a relationship between setting and people. Therefore, any place owns a landscape which, in turn, is a system of physical systems; it could be defined as a system of sites that builds up its own structure stemming from the orographical features and the geometry of land surfaces that set out the basic characters of its space.

Keywords: Architectural Design, Architecture, Built Environment, Landscape.


The results of a study of Universe in the light of stability theory

Umberto Di Caprio

Stability Analysis s.r.l., Via Andrea Doria 48/A - 20124 Milano, Italy

Visible universe“ is a spherical matter crust that rotates at a convenient speed around a central massive body which represents a black-hole. In addition it expands itself in all radial directions. Such structure was first postulated in 2004 and now is fully confirmed by experimental observations from the WMAP (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe) released by NASA in March 2007. Using Stability Theory (ST) we explain present state and future evolution up to final reach of a stable dynamical equilibrium. We present a consistent set of closed form equations that determine basic quantities as radius, age, Hubble constant, mass, density and “missing mass”. At the end of the expansion the number of typical stars of visible universe will be equal to the Avogadro Number.



Relation between SPECIAL RELATIVITY and stability theory
in the two-body problem

Umberto Di Caprio

Stability Analysis s.r.l., Via Andrea Doria 48/A - 20124 Milano, Italy

With reference to the restricted two-body problem we show that Stability Theory (ST) and Special Relativity (SR) can be joined together in a new theory that explains a large class of physical phenomena (e.g. black-holes, cosmological dynamics) and overcomes the dualism between SR and General Relativity (GR). After recalling the main features of ST (from the Method of Lyapunov to more recent developments up to analysis of fractals) we determine the canonic relativistic equations of the restricted two-body problem. A substantial novelty with respect to noted formulations is pointed out: three state variables (and not two only) are needed for ''defining'' said equations. They include the variable (magnitude of the rotation speed) in addition to radius and to radial speed . By means of eigenvalue analysis and by application of the Lyapunov theorem on stability in the first approximation we show that linearized system analysis gives a necessary condition only for stability: the radius must be greater than half the Schwarzschild radius. The derivation of a sufficient condition passes through the definition of a convenient Lyapunov function that represents the ''local energy'' around a given equilibrium point. Such derivation is deferred to Part II and results in the proof that the Schwarzschild radius actually represents the reference stable radius of the two-body problem.



A study of black-holes and of the Schwarzschild radius

Umberto Di Caprio

Stability Analysis s.r.l., Via Andrea Doria 48/A - 20124 Milano, Italy

We point out a sufficient condition for existence of a stable attractor in the two-body restricted problem. The result is strictly dependent on making reference to relativistic equations and could not be derived from classical analysis. The radius of the stable attractor equals the well known Schwarzschild radius of General Relativity (GR). So we establish a bridge between Special Relativity (SR) and GR via Stability Theory (ST) and find an innovative way for the study of black-holes and of the cosmological problem. A distinguishing feature is that no singularities come into evidence. The application of the Direct Method of Lyapunov together with a special Lyapunov function that represents the local energy provides us the right background.



Job satisfaction and organizational commitment:
affective commitment predictors in a group of professionals.

Maria Santa Ferretti

Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università di Pavia, Piazza Botta 6, 27100 Pavia, Italy

Job satisfaction and organizational commitment have long been identified as relevant factors for the well-being of individuals within an organisation and the success of the organisation itself. They have been often identified with structural factors allowing an organization to be considered as a system, or a wholistic entity, rather than a simple aggregate of individuals. Furthermore, recent studies have shown that job satisfaction has a significant, direct effect on determining individuals’ attachment to an organisation and a significant but indirect effect on their intention to leave a company. However, a complete assessment of the role of these factors in establishing and keeping the emergence of an organization is still lacking, due to shortage of measuring instruments and to practical difficulties in interviewing organization members.

The present study aims to give a further contribution to what is currently known about the relationship between job satisfaction and affective commitment by using a group of professionals, all at management level. A questionnaire to measure these constructs, following a pilot study, was designed and administered to 1042 participants who were all professionals and had the title of industrial manager or director.

The factors relating to job satisfaction and the predictive value of these factors (to predict an employee’s emotional involvement with their organisation) were simultaneously tested by a confirmative factorial model. The results were generalized with a multi-sample procedure by using models of structural equations. This procedure was used to check whether these factors could be considered or not as causes producing the measured affective commitment

The results showed that the four dimensions of job satisfaction (professional development, information, remuneration and relationship with superiors) are not equally predictive of affective commitment. To be more specific, the opportunity of professional development or growth provided by a company was shown to be the best predictor of affective commitment. This seems to suggest that, as expected, the emergence of organizations could be a true emergence, not reducible to a sum of single causes. Implications, future lines of research and limitations are discussed.

Keywords: job satisfaction, affective commitment, professionals


Systemics and Architecture: current theoretical issues

Giorgio Giallocosta

DIPARC - Dipartimento di Progettazione e Costruzione dell’Architettura,
Università di Genova, Stradone S. Agostino n. 37, 16123 Genoa

Systemics approaches towards architecture, traditionally within a structuralist framework (especially within a technological environment), may evolve in a non-reductionist way through:

- non-reductive considerations of the role of human requirements in the definition of inhabited spaces;

- acceptance of the use-perception dialogical relationship, and more generally of the art-science nexus, as being characteristic of architecture.

Likewise, there are theoretical issues in the development of systemics, particularly within the discipline of architecture, including:

- the role of the observer, in the constructivist sense and within the exceptions of scientific realism;

- the unpredictability of emergence, with its related limits (of purely ontological significance).

Keywords: systemics, architecture, emergence, observer


Importance of the infradisciplinary areas in the systemic approach towards new company organisational models: the building industry

Giorgio Giallocosta

DIPARC - Dipartimento di Progettazione e Costruzione dell’Architettura,
Università di Genova, Stradone S. Agostino n. 37, 16123 Genoa

Infradisciplinary, besides interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary, applications, forms part of the definition of new company organisational models and, in particular, for networked-companies. Their related systemic connotations characterise them as Collective Beings, especially regarding the optimisation of interactions between agents as well as context-specific interference.

Networked-companies in the building industry (chosen to illustrate the infradisciplinary values of the systemic approach towards company organisational models) require, due to their nature and particularities of context, certain specifications: behavioral microrules of an informal nature, suitable governance of their sector, etc. Their nature and particular context thus determine, especially in the systemic view, the need not only for an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach, but also an infradisciplinary one.

Keywords: systemics, infradisciplinarity, building, company, organization


Bidimensional Turing Machines as Galilean Models of Human Computation

Marco Giunti

Dipartimento di Scienze Pedagogiche e Filosofiche, Università di Cagliari
Via Is Mirrionis 1, 09123 Cagliari, Italy
giunti@unica.it , Tel: +39 0706757135, Fax: +39 0706757337

Even though simulation models are the dominant paradigm in cognitive science, it has been argued that Galilean models might fare better on both the description and explanation of real cognitive phenomena. The main goal of this paper is to show that the actual construction of Galilean models is clearly feasible, and well suited, for a special class of cognitive phenomena, namely, those of human computation. I will argue in particular that Turing’s original formulation of the Church-Turing thesis can naturally be viewed as the core hypothesis of a new empirical theory of human computation. This theory relies on bidimensional Turing machines, a generalization of ordinary machines with one dimensional tape to two dimensional paper. Finally, I will suggest that this theory might become a first paradigm for a general approach to the study of cognition, an approach entirely based on Galilean models of cognitive phenomena.



On generalization:
constructing a general concept from a single example

Shelia Guberman

Digital Oil Technologies, Cupertino, California, USA

Using the linguistic approach it is possible to generalize from a single example.




Luigi Lella, Ignazio Licata

ISEM, Institute for Scientific Methodology, Palermo.Italy
E-mail: Ignazio.licata@ejtp.info

Actual organizations, in particular the ones which operate in evolving and distributed environments, need advanced frameworks for the management of the knowledge life cycle. These systems have to be based on the social relations which constitute the pattern of collaboration ties of the organization. We demonstrate here, with the aid of a model taken from the theory of graphs, that it is possible to provide the conditions for an effective knowledge management. A right way could be to involve the actors with the highest betweeness centrality in the generation of discussion groups. This solution allows the externalization of tacit knowledge, the preservation of knowledge and the raise of innovation processes.



Variabilità di stato ed attrattori psicopatologici.
La complessità comportamentale come discriminante
tra i profili di normalità e di patologia

Pier Luigi Marconi

ARTEMIS Neuropsichiatrica – ROMA

La clinica psichiatrica negli ultimi vent'anni soprattutto ha sviluppato diversi strumenti per l’”obiettivazione” e la “quantificazione” delle osservazioni cliniche e di quanto viene soggettivamente percepito o notato dagli stessi pazienti. Tali osservazioni in passato erano soggette solo ad una descrizione qualitativa ed a valutazioni interpretativi delle relazioni tra i fatti osservati, psicologicamente derivabili.

Le osservazioni quantitative provenivano solo da una ricerca neurologica o psicologica di base.

Lo sviluppo degli strumenti di valutazione e misura in clinica psichiatrica che si è osservato nella seconda metà del secolo scorso, ha portato ad un notevole sviluppo della ricerca “basata sulle evidenze”, ma solo negli ultimi dieci anni l’impiego di questi strumenti si è esteso all’attività clinica quotidiana, spesso associandosi all’impiego dei nuovi strumenti offerti dall’informatica clinica.

L’attività clinica effettuata con osservazioni dirette classiche associate all’impiego di strumenti di valutazione e misura di tipo quantitativo, viene definita “pratica clinica strutturata”. Questa “strutturazione quantitativa e qualitativa” del dato permette l'applicazione di tecniche statistiche e matematiche di elaborazione del dato e quindi l’evidenziazione di fenomeni caratteristici di popolazioni di soggetti sulla base di evidenziazioni oggettive.

In tal modo lo stesso “comportamento” e gli stessi “atteggiamenti”, come i vissuti soggettivi e le autopercezioni del proprio comportamento vengono oggettivati

L'attività ambulatoriale svolta dalla ARTEMIS Neuropsichiatrica segue questo tipo di pratica clinica strutturata da circa 10 anni: in questo periodo di osservazione e follow up, ha acquisito un archivio dati relativo a vissuti soggettivi, comportamenti osservati e comportamenti autodescritti di circa 1200 pazienti; l’osservazioni oggettive effettuate nel corso della prima visita, sono assolutamente confrontabili con le osservazioni compiute con la stessa metodologia nelle visite di controllo o nelle revisioni diagnostiche.

Nei valori quantitativi osservati nei differenti soggetti, esistono componenti “di stato” e componenti “di tratto”. Le seconde rappresentano valori di base, rispetto i quali il singolo soggetto tende a esprimere delle invarianze nel corso del tempo e rappresenta l’espressione della sua struttura stabile psicobilogica. Le prime invece rappresentano le perturbazioni di questi valori base sotto l’azione interferente di eventi esterni stressanti e/o fattori interni di reazione psicopatologica.

Il quesito clinico che emerge da queste osservazioni riguarda da un lato l’ampiezza della variabilità dei dati di stato sullo sfondo del profilo di stato e dall’altro le differenze tra i profili di stato medi di determinate popolazioni patologiche tra loro e rispetto la norma.

La domanda è se questi profili medi di popolazione (“attrattori psicopatologici”) siano espressione di vincoli psicobiologici definiti dallo stesso processo morboso, il quale da un lato condizionerebbe una perdita di parte o tutta la variabilità “comportamentale” osservabile nel “sano”, dall’altro caratterizzerebbe in modo precipuo la singola condizione morbosa.

L’ipotesi di fondo è relativa alla definibilità del processo psicopatologico nel suo complesso come un fenomeno di riduzione della complessità comportamentale potenziale del soggetto affetto, e dal suo “irrigidimento” verso condizioni di funzionalità limitata, tando da ridurne le capacità di adattamento o comunque di gestione degli eventi stressanti esterni come dei bisogni interni.

Per questa ragione sono stati estratti i “profili” dei pazienti sino ad oggi osservati quantificandone la variabilità tra una osservazione e l’altra, e la convergenza verso profili medi di popolazione diagnostica.

Nel corso della presentazione saranno riportati e discussi i dati derivate da questo studio, facendo particolare riferimento all'ipotesi che le condizioni di normalità siano catalizzate da una maggiore variabilità di comportamento e quindi va maggiori oscillazioni di strato con attrattori di meno definiti è il più variabili nello stesso soggetto. Al contrario nelle soggetti affetti da patologie tra le oscillazioni di Stato sarebbero ridotte, mentre emergono definiti profili tipici per ciascuna patologia.



Environment, Products, Technologies and Models of Disablement:
from Assistive Technologies to Universal Design

Carmelo Masala, Donatella Rita Petretto

Department of Psychology – University of Cagliari

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) is by now the most known conceptual model of disability worldwide. There are indeed other conceptual models that are less known. These other models had important effects on thinking about disability and on the production of environmental facilities for persons with disabilities. This article describes the contribution to the market field of the conceptual models of disability developed in the past century. A review of the literature about conceptual models of disablement in the past century has been performed and the contributions of any of these conceptualizations to the market field have been described. In the past century different conceptual models of disablement have been developed, some of which share the same focus and point of arrival, i.e. the so-called ‘Disablement Process’. These models can be categorized in different groups: models that analysed the role of the person’s characteristics, models that emphasized the role of the environment, models that analysed the relation between person and environment. Seeing disability as an attribute of a person, or seeing it as a consequence of the environment, or seeing it as the result of the interaction between the person and the environment are three different options of analysis of the “Disablement process”. These groups of models have had different effects on the market field and on the production of environmental facilities for persons with disabilities. The shift from models based on the characteristic of the person to models based to the role of environmental factors has influenced the production of “special” environmental factors, like those known as “Assistive Technologies”. The more recent shift to models that analysed the relation between person and environment has influenced the production of “all” environmental factors and “all” products by the philosophy of “Universal Design”: instead of producing products for “average” persons and products for “special” persons, “universal design” products are “intelligent” products for general people with different characteristics, products that are able to fit to all these different characteristics.

Keywords: disablement, enablement, health, environment, assistive technology, universal design.


Description of a complex system through the recursive functions

Guido Massa Finoli

Vicolo Arno, 2 - Silvi Marina (Teramo)

This contribution deals with the problem of characterization of complex systems and of hierarchies related to them. Starting from an enough shared definition of “complex system”, we introduce a definition of level hierarchies and of emergent phenomena within a given system. Our analysis has been based on the concept of measure and of measure invariance. By resorting to recursive functions, we have been able to give at least a first formalization of processes of level formation taking into account the contextuality of systems. Furthermore we suggested how symmetries, hierarchic structures and emergent properties take their origin from it.

Keywords: complex systems, hierarchical levels, measure, measure invariance, recursive functions, symmetries.



Gianfranco Minati

Italian Systems Society, Milan, Italy

We first discuss the concept of structure to differentiate between structural and systemic properties. Within this framework we discuss processes of establishing structures, such as phase transitions, organisation and self-organisation. The subject is particularly important for dealing with processes of establishing systems, i.e., through organisation and self-organisation.

The paper introduces concepts and insights about the process of Acquiring Properties (AP) in systems, not just possessing properties. The last point relates to establishing, sustaining and managing new properties in emergent and organisational systems. In the Appendix we briefly discuss this approach for the concept of mind possessed by living matter.

Keywords: acquired property, emergence, self-organisation, structure.



Gianfranco Minati

Italian Systems Society, Milan, Italy

Res Severa, Verum Gaudium

(From the inscription on the Organ

of the Gewandhaus Orchestra, Leipzig)

The problem in defining generalization is considered by examining some core aspects, such as (a) the extent of the domain of validity of a property, (b) the transformation between different non-equivalent representations and (c) the respective representations of different observers and their relationships, i.e., a dynamic theory of relationships between levels of observation as introduced by the Dynamic Usage of Models (DYSAM). The purpose of this paper is to better clarify the conceptual framework of generalization in order to be able to set the context for a General Theory of Emergence as meta-theory, using models of models (as for logical openness) and interacting hierarchies. After considering some approaches used to generalize and focussing upon the purpose of General System Theory for generalizing, we examine some concrete approaches, such as DYSAM, for building up a General Theory of Emergence with specific theories of disciplinary emergence as particular cases.

Keywords: emergence, generalization, meta-theory, models, system, trans-disciplinarity.


Inducing Systems Thinking in consumer societies

Gianfranco Minati1,2 and Larry A. Magliocca2

1 Italian Systems Society (AIRS), Milano, Italy
2 Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

We introduce some core principles related to systems thinking: interaction, establishment of systems through organization and self-organization (emergence), and the constructivist role of the observer including the use of language. It is not effective to deal with systemic properties in a non-systemic way, by adopting a reductionist way of thinking, i.e., when properties of systems are considered as properties of objects. We consider the reductionist view adopted in consumer societies to be functional to its interests. In consumer societies, language is suitable for maintaining people in the role of consumers with a limited ability to design and create. In this context freedom is intended as freedom of choice. To counteract the typical consumer material on offer, we propose the diffusion of suitable games, cartoons, comics and pictures, images, concepts and words which can enrich everyday language, especially that of young people, and provide an effective way for inducing some elementary aspects of systems thinking in everyday life. The purpose is to have a language to design and develop things and not merely to select from what is already available. We list a number of proposals for the design of such games, stories and pictures.

Keywords: consumerism, games, induction, language, systems thinking.


Environment and urban tourism:
An emergent system in rhetorical place identity definitions

Marina Mura

University of Cagliari, Psychology Department, Via Is Mirrionis, n.1, 09123 Cagliari, Italy
Tel. 39 70 6757504, Fax 070 274778, E-mail:

Person-environment interaction makes emergent what can be called a ‘world picture’, that is a mental representation of physical places used to set preferences, assess events, things and persons, make decisions. The systemic nature of this phenomenon prevents from any description of it in terms of cause-effect relationships, even if it is still possible to recognize its most influential factors. In particular, within the systemic framework of Environmental Psychology (Bechtel and Churchman, 2002) and following the Urry’s (2002) and Pearce’s approach (2005), the aim of this research is to investigate, in the context of urban tourism, the world picture of native and not native residents. This investigation is related to the issue of preservation of socio-physical diversity (the problem of tourism sustainability, Di Castri and Balaji, 2002).

In this regard forty in-depth and narrative interviews of inhabitants with longer or shorter residential experience in Cagliari (Italy) were examined by resorting to methodology of Discourse Analysis. The latter allowed to detect that native and not native’s rhetorical devices express similar representations of urban places, but linked in different ways to social and place identity. This circumstance could enable us to understand how to support a local system of sustainable tourism. In this regard, it is to be underlined that the adopted approach, despite its intrinsic limitations, gave some indications about the factors to be taken into account when dealing with problems that, within a cause-effect perspective, would be absolutely unsolvable.

Keywords: sustainable urban-tourism, social identity, place identity, discourse analysis.


Communication, silence and miscommunication

Maria Pietronilla Penna*, Sandro Mocci*, Cristina Sechi*

*Univ. degli Studi di Cagliari, Fac. di Scienze della Formazione, Dip. Psicologia
Univ. degli Studi di Cagliari, Fac. di Scienze della Formazione, Dip. Studi Filosofici
maria.pietronilla@unica.it, mocci@tiscali.it, cristina.sechi@email.it

The classical theories about communication have different views on the relevance of the requirement of the intentionality of the communicative agent. The composition of these views seems to be problematic since it leads to incompatible outcomes when we try to classify communicative behaviours. Some approaches, in order to build a synthesis, shift on the addressee the task of detecting the intentionality and thus cannot account for a number of interesting communicative phenomena. The systemic perspective instead, through the circularity of the inferences on system elements and the sharing of the attributes and the overall communicative characteristics of the system, defines, specifies and more generalises the concept of communication, enabling to better single out the variety of phenomena connected to it and to catch the emergence of their communicative value.

Keywords: Communication, communicative system, inferential circularity, silence.



Eliano Pessa

Centro Interdipartimentale di Scienze Cognitive, Università di Pavia
Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università di Pavia, Piazza Botta, 6, 27100 Pavia, Italy

This paper deals with the feasibility of a general theory of changes occurring both in nonbiological and in biological world. The aim of this theory should be that of classifying, describing, and forecasting the consequences of changes, as well as of finding the conditions which ensure a possibility of controlling them. The most important sub-case of this investigation would consist in a general theory of emergence, clarifying whether the latter could be or not obtained through a suitable generalization of physical theory of phase transitions. We will argue that this enterprise could be feasible, provided actual theoretical framework holding in physics be enlarged in a suitable way, so as to include phenomena not reducible to particles interacting through force fields of immutable nature.

Keywords: Emergence, phase transitions, biological models, quantum field theory.


Motivational antecedents of individual innovation

Patrizia Picci *, Adalgisa Battistelli **

* Dipartimento di Psicologia e Antropologia Culturale,Università di Verona
Porta Vittoria, 17 - 37129 – Verona;
patrizia.picci@formazione.univr.it, adalgisa.battistelli@univr.it

Innovation, as with other similar constructs such as creativity and personal initiative is a psychological process which facilitates the transformation of individual, group and organizational work roles towards future alternatively desired forms. At the individual level, this process is defined as “the intentional introduction to a role, a series of new and useful ideas and processes and procedures” (Farr and Ford 1990) which starts with the generation or more precisely the production of new and useful ideas, in whatever domain they may occur (Scott e Bruce, 1994; Janssen, 2000).

An important factor that stimulates the individual to carry out the various processes of change and innovation within the organization in which they work is known as intrinsic motivation, which under the most prevalent current psychological models is considered to be at odds with extrinsic motivation. Nonetheless, a certain body of recent research has emphasized how under certain conditions the synergic presence of these two motivational forms may well determine positive outcomes with regards to creative performance (Amabile, Barsade Mueller and Staw, 2005).

One motivational theory which as yet has not been used in research on innovation at work is the Self-Determination Theory (Deci and Ryan, 1985), which is quite simply based on the fundamental distinction between autonomous and controlled motivation.

A second factor, capable of stimulating or indeed inhibiting potential creativity and innovation of individuals is the organizational environment in which they must work. A significant body of research has observed how the organizational environment has a direct influence on the result/outcome of creative performance. The more complex the task, the higher the level of the subjects’/individuals’ motivation, job satisfaction and productivity (Cummings and Oldham, 1997). Complex tasks stimulate the development of a higher level of potential creativity insofar as they imply a greater level of individual autonomy and responsibility. This result is in direct contrast to the negative effects of simpler and more routine tasks on individuals whose enthusiasm for and interest in the latest innovation is clearly inhibited (Scott and Bruce, 1994). Starting from the above evidence, the current work seeks to focus on an analysis of innovative behavior and in particular on the various generational phases of the hypothesized ideas as follows:

(a) Extrinsic motivation such as external regulation, introjection, identification and integration positively influences innovative behavior at work, specifically with regard to the generational phase of ideas.

(b) Work characteristics such as task variety, identification and autonomy positively influence innovative behavior at work, specifically with regard to the generational phase of ideas. The research sample was made up 100 individuals who are employees of a local government health department in Central Italy. Each individual was given an explicit questionnaire.

The results clearly show that among external factors that effect the individual such as control, rewards and recognition for work well done, controlled motivation influences overall innovative behavior whereas autonomous motivation plays a significant role in the specific behavior of generating ideas. At the same time, it must also be acknowledged that a clearly articulated task which allows an individual to identify with said task, seems to favor overall innovative behavior, whilst a task which allows a fair degree of autonomy influences the behavior of generating ideas.

Keywords: innovation, antecedents of individual innovation, motivation, self determination theory, work characteristics


Music: creativity and structure transitions

Emanuela Pietrocini

Accademia Angelica Costantiniana, http://www.accademiacostantiniana.org
Dipartimento di Musica Antica, Piazza A. Tosti 4 Roma RM, Italy
AIRS – Italian Systems Society, Milan, Italy

Music, compared to other complex forms of representation, is fundamentally characterised by constant evolution and a dynamic succession of structure reference models. This is without taking into account historical perspective, the analysis of forms and styles, or questions of a semantic nature; the observation rather refers to the phenomenology of the music system. The more abstract a compositional model, the greater the number and frequency of variables that are not assimilated to the reference structure; this "interference" which happens more often than not in an apparently casual manner, modifies the creative process to varying but always substantial degrees: locally, it produces a disturbance in perceptive, formal and structural parameters, resulting more often than not in a synaesthetic experience; globally, on the other hand, it defines the terms of a transition to a new state, in which the relations between elements and components modify the behaviour of the entire system from which they originated. It is possible to find examples of this phenomenon in the whole range of musical production, in particular in improvisations, in the use of the Basso Continuo, and in some contrapuntal works of the baroque period, music whose temporal dimension can depart from the limits of mensurability and symmetry to define an open compositional environment in continuous evolution.

Keywords: Music, emergence, complexity, creativity, structure transitions.


Continuities and discontinuities in motion perception

Baingio Pinna*, Richard L. Gregory#

* Facoltà di Lingue e Letterature Straniere, Dipartimento di Scienze dei Linguaggi, Università di Sassari,
Via Roma 151 , I-07100, Sassari, Italy Tel.
+39-079-229730, e-mail baingio@uniss.it
# Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol,
8 Woodland Road, BS8 1TN, Bristol, United Kingdom.
Phone: +39-079-441101, Fax: +39-079-229645, E-mail: baingio@uniss.it

New types of apparent motion effects depending on continuities and discontinuities placed along continuous or discontinuous boundaries are here illustrated. These effects suggest that global grouping processes (i.e., proximity, good continuation) may affect the local motion signals, and they are affected by them. The bidirectional interaction between local and global motion signals may be considered as the phenomenal result of a feedback between local and global motion processes.

Keywords: Illusions, Gestalt grouping principles, Illusory motion, Motion perception, Local and global motion processes.


The emergence of figural effects in the watercolor illusion

Baingio Pinna *, Maria Pietronilla Penna #

* Department of Science of Languages, University of Sassari, Via Roma 151, I-07100 Sassari, Italy
Phone: +39-079-441101
, Fax: +39-079-229645, E-mail: baingio@uniss.it
# Department of Psychology, University of Cagliari, Via Is Mirrionis, 1, Cagliari, Italy

The watercolor illusion is characterized by a large-scale assimilative color spreading (coloration effect) emanating from thin colored edges. The watercolor illusion enhances the figural properties of the colored areas and imparts to the surrounding area the perceptual status of background. This work explores interactions between cortical boundary and surface processes by presenting displays and psychophysical experiments that exhibit new properties of the watercolor illusion. The watercolor illusion is investigated as supporting a new principle of figure-ground organization when pitted against principles of surroundedness, relative orientation, and Prägnanz. The work demonstrated that the watercolor illusion probes a unique combination of visual processes that set it apart from earlier Gestalt principles, and can compete successfully against them. This illusion exemplifies how long-range perceptual effects may be triggered by spatially sparse information. All the main effects are explained by the FACADE model of biological vision, which clarifies how local properties control depthful filling-in of surface lightness and color.

Keywords: perceptual organization, grouping principles, color spreading, figure-ground segregation, filling-in


Systemic openness of the economy and normative analysis

Paolo Ramazzotti

Dipartimento di Istituzioni Economiche e Finanziarie
Università di Macerata, Via Crescimbeni 20, 62100 Macerata

The paper discusses economic analysis as a normative – as opposed to positive - science. Contrary to conventional economics, it argues that: the economy does not consist of markets alone; both the economy and markets are open systems. The organisation of markets and other economic activities therefore depends on the interaction between the economy and the rest of society. What configuration holds in practice is a matter of public policy. In this perspective, public policy is an intrinsic part of economic analysis, not something that follows once the economy has been investigated.

The paper also argues that markets have a rationale of their own. As a consequence, public policy must define - or co-determine - the appropriate economic configuration not only by acting upon the institutional setup of markets but also by identifying those sections of the economy that should be coordinated by markets and those that should resort to other economic institutions.



The “implicit” ethics of a systemic approach to the medical praxis

Alberto Ricciuti

AIRS - Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sui Sistemi, http://www.airs.it
Attivecomeprima-Onlus (Breast Cancer Association), Via Livigno, 3 – 20158 Milano, Italy

The unstoppable acceleration of the scientific and technological development that is revolutionizing our socioeconomic systems in recent years has made the critical aspects and the inadequacy of medical epistemology more and more evident. Several elements have underlined the insufficiency of traditional ethical points of reference in Medicine, as the change of individual needs, the technical possibility of long-term management of heavy pathologies, the change of the social and health systems caused by the interaction of different ethnic groups and cultures, several problems linked to the fair distribution of resources in the regime of fiscal scarcity involving all the industrialized countries of our world. This brought to the necessity for Medicine to modify its coordinates, adjusting them on the person, and not on the disease.

In order to reach this objective, the author strategically suggests the Systemics as the epistemological guidance of the process of knowing, which can make the scientific method operate in an ethical and cultural horizon centred on the human being valorisation, on the respect of his needs and the respect of his environment. The author also underlines, as fundamental methodological premise for the development of this epistemology, the necessity for the observer to be aware of being himself part of the observed phenomenon, and that the simple act of observing the phenomenon causes its modification.

A systemic approach of the medical thought can allow the re-orientation of the clinical point of view from a biological to a biographic one, the re-definition of the aim of the medical intervention as the restoration and support of auto-organizing and auto-regulating processes of the biological system, the achieving of a social and health expenditure’s saving through a major appropriate prescription and an inherent preventive valence of medical interventions, the offer of new and larger horizons for the development of scientific research.

This renewed and richer orientation of medical epistemology can give a fundamental contribution to politics, to make it act in more effective ways in order to get a reorganization of health procedures centred on the person, rather than on the disease.

Keywords: medical ethics, bioethics, systemics, medical epistemology, systems theory.



D. Rollo, F. Buttiglieri

Department of Psychology, University of Cagliari

In recent years, a number of studies that have examined how social experiences are related to children’s theory of mind development, have found that: (1) the frequency of mothers’ mental state utterances used in mother-child picture-book reading, is correlated with children’s theory of mind abilities; (2) mothers’ use of cognitive terms is related more strongly to children’s theory of mind performances than the mothers’ references to other mental states, such as desires or emotions (Adrian, Clemente, Villanueva, Rieffe, 2005; Ruffman, Slade, Crowe, 2002; Taumoepeau, Ruffman, 2006; Dunn, 2002). Despite the evidence for the role of mothers’ language, there is disagreement over how exactly it improves children’s theory of mind development. In short, mentalistic comments contain distinctive words, grammatical constructions and pragmatic features. The question is, however, which factor is critical (de Rosnay, Pons, Harris, Morrell, 2004).

The present study addresses this issue and focuses on relationship between mothers’ mental state terms and children’s performances in theory of mind tasks (emotion understanding and false belief tasks).

Mothers were asked to read some pictures to 10 children between 3;0 and 5;0.

Among the different mental state references (perceptual, emotional, volitional, cognitive, moral and communicative), it was found that the frequency and variety of mothers’ mental state words were significantly associated with children’s mental lexicon. In addition, emotional terms correlated positively with children’s false belief performance.

Kind of emotional words that are used by the mothers with reference to the Italian language will be discussed.




R. Rongo(2,3), W. Spataro(1,3), D. D’Ambrosio(1,3), M.V. Avolio(1,3), V. Lupiano(2), S. Di Gregorio(1,3)

(1) Department of Mathematics, University of Calabria, Italy
(2) Department of Earth Sciences, University of Calabria, Italy
(3) Center of Excellence for High Performance Computing, University of Calabria, Italy

Cellular Automata are discrete dynamical systems capable to produce interesting and heterogeneous emergent behaviours even in spite of simple local rules of evolution. In this review paper, an evolutionary methodology for evolving models of complex natural macroscopic systems through Macroscopic Cellular Automata is focused. Two examples of applications to the simulation of lava and debris flows, when compared with real cases of study, have confirmed the goodness of the approach, both in qualitative and quantitative terms.



The growth of populations of protocells

Roberto Serra *°, Timoteo Carletti #°, Irene Poli ° , Alessandro Filisetti *

° Dipartimento di Statistica, Università Ca’ Foscari
San Giobbe Cannaregio 873, 30121 Venezia, Italy;
* Dipartimento di Scienze Sociali, Cognitive e Quantitative, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia
Via Allegri 9, 42100 Reggio Emilia, Italy
# Département de Mathématique, Université Notre Dame de la Paix Namur
Rempart de la Vierge 8, B 5000 Namur, Belgium

The growth of protocells is discussed under different hypotheses (one or more replicators, linear and nonlinear kinetics) using a class of abstract models (Surface Reaction Models). A method to analyze the dynamics of successive protocell generations is presented, and it is applied to the problem of determining whether the duplication times of the protocell itself and of its genetic material eventually tend to a common value. The importance of the phenomenon of emergent synchronization for sustained protocell population growth and for evolvability is discussed.



Investigating cell criticality

R. Serraa, M. Villania, C. Damiania, A. Graudenzia, P. Ingramia, A. Colaccib

a Dipartimento di Scienze Sociali, Cognitive e Quantitative
Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Via Allegri 9, 42100 Reggio Emilia, Italia
b Excellence Environmental Carcinogenesis, Environmental Protection and Health Prevention Agency Emilia-Romagna, Viale Filopanti 22, Bologna, Italia

Random Boolean networks provide a way to give a precise meaning to the notion that living beings are in a critical state. Some phenomena which are observed in real biological systems (distribution of "avalanches" in gene knock-out experiments) can be modelled using random Boolean networks, and the results can be analytically proven to depend upon the Derrida parameter, which also determines whether the network is critical. By comparing observed and simulated data one can then draw inferences about the criticality of biological cells, although with some care because of the limited number of experimental observations. The relationship between the criticality of a single network and that of a set of interacting networks, which simulate a tissue or a bacterial colony, is also analyzed by computer simulations.



A Neural Model of Face Recognition: a comprehensive approach

Vera Stara*, Anna Montesanto*, Paolo Puliti*, Guido Tascini*, Cristina Sechi**

*Università Politecnica delle Marche, Facoltà di Ingegneria, DEIT
v.stara@univpm.it , a.montesanto@univpm.it, p.puliti@univpm.it, g.tascini@univpm.it
**Università degli Studi di Cagliari, Facoltà di Scienze della Formazione,

Visual recognition of faces is an essential behaviour of humans: we have optimal performance in everyday life and just such a performance makes us able to establish the continuity of actors in our social life and to quickly identify and categorize people. This remarkable ability justifies the general interest in face recognition of researchers belonging to different fields and specially of designers of biometrical identification systems able to recognize the features of person's faces in a background.

Due to interdisciplinary nature of this topic in this contribute we deal with face recognition through a comprehensive approach with the purpose to reproduce some features of human performance, as evidenced by studies in psychophysics and neuroscience, relevant to face recognition. This approach views face recognition as an emergent phenomenon resulting from the nonlinear interaction of a number of different features. For this reason our model of face recognition has been based on a computational system implemented through an artificial neural network.

This synergy between neuroscience and engineering efforts allowed us to implement a model that had a biological plausibility, performed the same tasks as human subjects, and gave a possible account of human face perception and recognition. In this regard the paper reports on an experimental study of performance of a SOM-based neural network in a face recognition task, with reference both to the ability to learn to discriminate different faces, and to the ability to recognize a face already encountered in training phase, when presented in a pose or with an expression differing from the one present in the training context.

Keywords: face recognition, biometrics, neural networks


An e-usability view of the Web:
a systemic method for user interfaces

Vera Stara*, Maria Pietronilla Penna**, Guido Tascini*

*Università Politecnica delle Marche, Facoltà di Ingegneria, DEIT, v.stara@univpm.it, g.tascini@univpm.it
**Università degli Studi di Cagliari, Facoltà di Scienze della Formazione,

Different approaches can be applied to assess the usability of a web application. Each one of them presents advantages and drawbacks, as well as cost-benefits trade-offs. This contribution contains a short review of the state-of-the-art in web usability assessment issues, by focusing on a new systemic approach, called “e-usability”, designed to deal in a more integrated way with the human-computer interaction, so as to allow a more realistic assessment of web interfaces. The applied methodology is quick and doesn’t need any artefact design or evaluation cost.

Keywords: user interfaces, usability, usability methods.



Graziano Terenzi

Universita degli Studi di Pavia

This paper deals with the problem of understanding anticipation in cognitive systems. It is argued that a cognitive theory can be considered as cognitively plausible only if it incorporates the ability to describe systems which exhibit anticipatory behaviours. The paper introduces a cognitive level description of anticipation and provides a simple characterization of anticipatory systems on this level. Specifically, a simple model of a formal anticipatory neuron and a model of an anticipatory neural network which is based on the former are introduced and discussed. Some learning algorithms are also discussed together with related experimental tasks and possible integrations.

The outcome of the paper is a formal characterization of anticipation in cognitive systems which aims at being incorporated in a comprehensive and more general systemic theory.