The notion of structural coupling plays a central role in Maturana and Varela’s biology of cognition framework and strongly influenced Varela’s subsequent enactive elaboration of this framework. Building upon previous work using a glider in the Game of Life (GoL) cellular automaton as a toy model of a minimal autopoietic system with which to concretely explore these theoretical frameworks, this article presents an analysis of structural coupling between a glider and its environment. Specifically, for sufficiently small GoL universes, we completely characterize the nonautonomous dynamics of both a glider and its environment in terms of interaction graphs, derive the set of possible glider lives determined by the mutual constraints between these interaction graphs, and show how such lives are embedded in the state transition graph of the entire GoL universe.
Bittorio revisited: structural coupling in the Game of Life
Randall D Beer