The TAP equation: evaluating combinatorial innovation

Marina Cortês, Stuart A. Kauffman, Andrew R. Liddle, Lee Smolin
We investigate solutions to the TAP equation, a phenomenological implementation of the Theory of the Adjacent Possible. Several implementations of TAP are studied, with potential applications in a range of topics including economics, social sciences, environmental change, evolutionary biological systems, and the nature of physical laws. The generic behaviour is an extended plateau followed by a sharp explosive divergence. We find accurate analytic approximations for the blow-up time that we validate against numerical simulations, and explore the properties of the equation in the vicinity of equilibrium between innovation and extinction. A particular variant, the two-scale TAP model, replaces the initial plateau with a phase of exponential growth, a widening of the TAP equation phenomenology that may enable it to be applied in a wider range of contexts.

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