J. P. Crutchfield
ABSTRACT: After more than a century of concerted effort, physics still lacks basic principles of spontaneous self-organization. To appreciate why, we first state the problem, outline historical approaches, and survey the present state of the physics of self-organization. This frames the particular challenges arising from mathematical intractability and the resulting need for computational approaches, as well as those arising from a chronic failure to define structure. Then, an overview of two modern mathematical formulations of organization—intrinsic computation and evolution operators—lays out a way to overcome these challenges. Together, the vantage point they afford shows how to account for the emergence of structured states via a statistical mechanics of systems arbitrarily far from equilibrium. The result is a constructive path forward to principles of organization that builds on mathematical identification of structure.