Morphological computation and morphological control: steps toward a formal theory and applications

Rudolf M Füchslin, Andrej Dzyakanchuk, Dandolo Flumini, Helmut Hauser, Kenneth J Hunt, Rolf H Luchsinger, Benedikt Reller, Stephan Scheidegger, Richard Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Morphological computation can be loosely defined as the exploitation of the shape, material properties, and physical dynamics of a physical system to improve the efficiency of a computation. Morphological control is the application of morphological computing to a control task. In its theoretical part, this article sharpens and extends these definitions by suggesting new formalized definitions and identifying areas in which the definitions we propose are still inadequate. We go on to describe three ongoing studies, in which we are applying morphological control to problems in medicine and in chemistry. The first involves an inflatable support system for patients with impaired movement, and is based on macroscopic physics and concepts already tested in robotics. The two other case studies (self-assembly of chemical microreactors; models of induced cell repair in radio-oncology) describe processes and devices on the micrometer scale, in which the emergent dynamics of the underlying physical system (e.g., phase transitions) are dominated by stochastic processes such as diffusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-34
Number of pages26
JournalArtificial Life
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Algorithms
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Computational Biology
  • Electronics
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Neoplasms
  • Robotics
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Systems Theory


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