University of Hertfordshire

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By the same authors

Measuring Time with Minimal Clocks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-409
Number of pages27
JournalArtificial life
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


Being able to measure time, whether directly or indirectly, is a significant advantage for an organism. It allows for timely reaction to regular or predicted events, reducing the pressure for fast processing of sensory input. Thus, clocks are ubiquitous in biology. In the present article, we consider minimal abstract pure clocks in different configurations and investigate their characteristic dynamics. We are especially interested in optimally time-resolving clocks. Among these, we find fundamentally diametral clock characteristics, such as oscillatory behavior for purely local time measurement or decay-based clocks measuring time periods on a scale global to the problem. We include also sets of independent clocks (clock bags), sequential cascades of clocks, and composite clocks with controlled dependence. Clock cascades show a condensation effect, and the composite clock shows various regimes of markedly different dynamics.


© 2019 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This is the accepted manuscript version of an article which has been published in final form at

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