Emergence is the expression of a structure or pattern as a product of its parts and their interactions with each other. The resulting phenomenon is novel, much more than its parts and cannot be explained by an examination of each of them.

The double helix of DNA is an example: examination of each of the four nucleotides that comprise DNA cannot explain the complex functions that it performs. The complex shape of the double helix that is constructed cannot be predicted by the individual instructions. Another example is your mind: its thought cannot be explained by an analysis of a neuron. Thought results from the electrochemical impulses of millions of neurons interacting with each other.

Emergence is a key concept in understanding the complexity and processes of Nature. Many of the forms seen in Nature, although complicated, have been constructed from simple sets of instructions or algorithms and their interactions. This concept is closely allied with the notion that Nature “builds from the bottom up” or in a small component- based fashion that eventually produces complex structures.