Reconciling emergences: An information-theoretic approach to identify causal emergence in multivariate data.
The broad concept of emergence is instrumental in various of the most challenging open scientific questions-yet, few quantitative theories of what constitutes emergent phenomena have been proposed. This article introduces a formal theory of causal emergence in multivariate systems, which studies the relationship between the dynamics of parts of a system and macroscopic features of interest. Our theory provides a quantitative definition of downward causation, and introduces a complementary modality of emergent behaviour-which we refer to as causal decoupling. Moreover, the theory allows practical criteria that can be efficiently calculated in large systems, making our framework applicable in a range of scenarios of practical interest. We illustrate our findings in a number of case studies, including Conway's Game of Life, Reynolds' flocking model, and neural activity as measured by electrocorticography.