Emergence is a concept widely used in the sciences, the arts, and engineering. Some effort has been made to formalize it, but it is used in various contexts with different meanings, and a unified theory of emergence is still distant. The ultimate goal of a theory of emergence should include using emergence to model, design, or predict the behavior of multiagent systems. The author proposes a formal definition of a basic type of emergence using a language-theoretic and grammar systems approach. It is shown which types of phenomena can be modeled in this sense and what the consequences are for other more complex phenomena.

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