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As a field of scientific endeavour, complex systems science offers the hope of better understanding ourselves and the world around us, and producing major advances towards solving some of the worlds key environmental, cultural and social problems. The problems addressed by complex systems are recognized as being hard, as evidenced by the limitations in reductionist science to make significant advances.

Complex systems is an emerging multidisciplinary science developing new ways of researching large, highly intricate, dynamical systems in diverse areas such as biology, physics, social networks, socio-technological systems, socio-ecological systems, economics and the environment.

Please see my blog page for a brief introductory overview of Creativity and Complexity or below for some of my research publications. Creativity and Complexity is broad and deep research focused on a plurality of outcomes (knowledge and artefact, perhaps embedded in the same “object”).

Publications (Creativity and Complexity) :

Burraston, D. Rainwire Prototype: An Environmental Sonification System. Balance/Unbalance 2015 Conference. Arizona State University, Phoenix, USA

Burraston, D. The Agricultural Vernacular: Technological Appropriation For Adaption In Complex Agroecosystems. Balance/Unbalance 2013 Conference. CQ University, Noosa, Queensland

Burraston, D. (2012) Creativity + Complexity = Win Win, Leonardo Electronic Almanac. MIT Press (Invited)

Burraston, D. (2012) Environmental Sonification of Rainfall with Long Wire Instruments. Leonardo Music Journal 22 (Acoustics) pp 11-14, MIT Press.

Burraston, D. (2012) Rainwire: Environmental Sonification of Rainfall, Leonardo Vol 45 (3), MIT Press.

Burraston, D. (2012) Generative Music and Cellular Automata: An Introduction to the Online Bibliography, Leonardo Vol 45 (2), MIT Press

Burraston, D. (2012) Music Box Toy with Elementary Cellular Automata, Wolfram Demonstrations Project

Burraston, D. (2011) Generative Music and Cellular Automata Bibliography, Leonardo Art, Science and Technology Bibliographies, MIT Press

Burraston, D. (2011) Creativity, Complexity and Reflective Practice, In Candy, L. and Edmonds, E. eds. Interacting: Art, Research and the Creative Practitioner, Libri Publishing Ltd. Oxford. (Invited chapter) PDF preprint -> here

Burraston, D. (2010) Acorn. Computer Music Journal, Winter 2010, Vol. 34, No. 4, Pages 91-101, MIT Press (Generative sound composition on DVD)

Burraston, D. (2007) Fundamental Insights on Complex Systems arising from Generative Arts Practice. Leonardo Vol 40 (4), MIT Press. PDF preprint -> here

Burraston, D. (2007) Generative Music and Cellular Automata. PhD Thesis Abstract. Leonardo Abstracts Database (LABS)

Burraston, D. (2007) Generative Music and Cellular Automata. PhD Thesis Abstract. Leonardo Electronic Almanac Volume 15, Number 9 - 10 (Invited)

Burraston, D. (2006) Generative Music and Cellular Automata. PhD Thesis, Univ. Technology Sydney, Australia. Thesis PDF's zipped (36MB) -> thesis.

Burraston, D. and Martin, A. (Nov. 2006) Digital Behaviors and Generative Music, “Wild Nature and the Digital Life” Special Issue, Leonardo Electronic Almanac Vol 14, No. 7 – 8, MIT Press. PDF preprint -> here

Burraston, D. (2005) Structuring Cellular Automata Rule Space with Attractor Basins. Proceedings of Generative Arts Practice Symposium 2005.PDF -> here (note that this is formatted for A5!)

Burraston, D. and Edmonds, E. (2005) Cellular Automata in Generative Electronic Music and Sonic Art : A Historical and Technical Review. Digital Creativity 16(3) pp. 165-185 PDF -> preprint

Burraston, D. (2005) Variety, Pattern and Isomorphism. Proceedings of the Third Iteration Conference. Monash University. PDF -> here

Burraston, D. (2005) Composition at the Edge of Chaos. Proceedings of the 2005 Australasian Computer Music Conference.(Brisbane, July 2005). PDF -> here

Burraston, D. (2005) One Dimensional Cellular Automata Musical Experiments with Max. Proceedings of the11th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction. HCI International. (Invited) PDF -> here

Burraston, D. (2005) Experimental Generative Music Practice with Cellular Automata. Featured presentation at the Speculation and Innovation Conference at Queensland University of Technology. html

Burraston, D. (2005) Babelitis. Proceedings of Generative Arts Practice Symposium 2005. pp144-149

Edmonds, E, Brown, P and Burraston, D (Eds). (2005) Generative Arts Practice. Proceedings of Generative Arts Practice Symposium 2005. Creativity & Cognition Studios Press.

Burraston, D., and E. Edmonds. (2004) Global Dynamics Approach to Generative Music Experiments with One Dimensional Cellular Automata. Proceedings of the 2004 Australasian Computer Music Conference. PDF -> Page1 Pages 2-9

Burraston, D., E. Edmonds, D. Livingstone, and E. Miranda. (2004) Cellular Automata in MIDI based Computer Music. Proceedings of the 2004 International Computer Music Conference. PDF -> here

MANIAC & Arthur

MANIAC and Arthur are programmable general purpose music module development systems for studying complex systems.

MANIAC and Arthur @ noyzelab blog


ULAMIZER II is a prototype CA music module, designed to be part of a studio environment for both analogue modular and MIDI synthesizers.

ULAMIZER II : Cellular Automata Music Module

ULAMIZER-II : Some Example Trigger Sequence Patterns

Cellular Automaton Graphic Plots :

Global Spacetime Plots and Attractor Basins of Symmetric Rules

Global Spacetime Plots and Attractor Basins of Semi-asymmetric Rules

Global Spacetime Plots and Attractor Basins of Fully-asymmetric Rules

Animated Plots of Five Neighbour Rule Space Navigation (Tree F)

Animated Plots of Five Neighbour Rule Space Navigation (Tree A)

Animated Plots of Five Neighbour Rule Space Navigation (Tree 5)

Generative Music on the Roland MC4 MicroComposer - Cellular Automata Sequence Loops for Control Voltages

Cellular Automaton Data Tables :

Datafiles of basin field data were produced for 1D cellular automata as part of Appendix E (CD-ROM) of my PhD thesis. Basin of attraction field data produced by the current version of DDLab is in a slightly updated form than the Wuensche & Lesser original atlas. The data for the original atlas exists in scanned text format from the original printouts. DDLab was used to produce basin datafiles and create the first definitive electronic version of the atlas data. The attractor states are now produced in hexadecimal, a more compact representation than binary which was originally used. The benefit of having the data in this form is the ease of accessing and printing out specific basin information, and for further research. All rules have been computed from 1 cell to between 24 and 31 cells where practical, in all cases at least the minimum number of cells from the atlas have been computed. The rendering and computation mainly took place on an Apple Mac G4 400Mhz machine with 512MB of memory. As an example, the v2k5 fields for one rule would take on average between one to two weeks to compute. Full details about data export are contained in the DDLab manual, freely available from Andy Wuensche at www.ddlab.com. Note : in Wuensche's notation v = number of states, k = number of neighbours.

zipped boa fields for all 88 v2k3 elementary equivalence classes
zipped boa fields for all 36 v2k5 totalistic equivalence classes
zipped boa fields for all v2k5 complex rules in Wuensche 1997

These 3 zip files are the CA basin data described in my PhD Appendix E -> All 3 sets of boa fields 11MB.

Spacetime patterns of elementary rule space (Appendix A of my PhD) laid out according to the format I devised in Fig 5.21. ->Elementary Rule Space Structure From Rule 90 Attractor Basin

Elementary Cellular Automaton Rules : A table of all v2k3 elementary rules in order from 0 to 255, their transformations, clusters, symmetry categories and Z values (Burraston 2006).


In 2010 Acorn was featured on the peer reviewed DVD accompanying the Winter edition of the Computer Music Journal (MIT Press). Acorn is a generative music composition that explores a small discrete cellular universe, using 2D multi state Cellular Automata. It is realised through a hybrid of mediums, analogue/digital synthesis and old/new computer technology. The algorithm was programmed in BBC BASIC on an (ancient) Acorn RISC machine. Events in the universe are mapped to synthetic speech events (allophones), tones and digital noise. Sound output is further processed by an analogue modular synthesizer (Roland System 100M & Doepfer A100). A partial view of the studio setup is shown in the image above.The final production and mixing was made with Australian electronic music legend Garry Bradbury (formerly of Severed Heads). During 2005 Acorn was premiered in concert at the Australasian Computer Music Conference in Brisbane, performed live later the same year at both the 3rd Iteration Conference in Melbourne and the Electrofringe Festival in Newcastle. Acorn is now available on the album : Dave Noyze - Generative Compositions 1998 - 2006.

AC Toolbox Research

On the AC Toolbox page are a number of pieces made during my PhD as background research, and to help create a general process for using DDLab / Mathematica / AC Toolbox to create CA sound pieces.


An updated web version of my Cellular Automata (CA) contribution to the SPARKS DVD can be found

<----- here

Some studies made with max and ircam openmusic environments. The openmusic stuff was submitted to Stephen Wolfram's NKS 2003 conference. Original version can be found on the SPARKS DVD from 2003 published by the Creativity and Cognition Studios, Sydney, Australia. Favourite memory is showing my turretes video to stelarc => he pointed to it and said, "it . . ..beautiful". Most of the CA images and data on the DVD are generated with Andrew Wuensche's DDLab a specialised tool for investigating CA and discrete networks, and Stephen Wolfram's Mathematica.

<----- Additional ... Some CA print works exhibited at the SPARKS event

Max Research

Brief information and screen shots of Max patches made by Dave Noyze for creating/performing generative music/video.

Aleatoric Sequencer

CA Matrix

CA Toy 256




Doepfer Wavetable Generator

Image Sequencer

Korg MS2000 Patch Evolver


Series Machine

Iannis Xenakis & Cellular Automata

Research Addendum (Historical)

Spatial Audio and VR Papers :

Burraston D M, Hollier M P and Hawksford M O.1997."Limitations of dynamically controlling the listening position in a 3-D ambisonic environment", Audio Engineering Society Convention 102, Preprint Number: 4460 PDF -> here

ABSTRACT: Telepresence is the facility to meet, interact, and communicate in a shared virtual space where elements of that space can take input from multiple remote locations. Such environments, currently under investigation at BT Labs, include a synthesis of spatial 3-D audio integrated within an interactive video environment. A video image of the user provides location and gesture inputs to the system and techniques are described to implement and assess the tracking bounds on dynamic control of the spatial audio sweet spot to match user location.

Hollier M P, Rimell A N and Burraston D M. 1997. "Spatial audio technology for telepresence", BT Technology Journal, 15, No 4, pp33-41

ABSTRACT : As people start to exploit new telepresence technologies to meet and work, they will be able to exploit all of their senses as they transmit, receive, and monitor information. An essential part of such three-dimensional spaces is the audio landscape. People are able to detect a wide variety of sounds and separate them in space. Spatial separation improves the detection and intelligibility of speech from multiple talkers, and enables simultaneous monitoring of multiple information streams through the use of multiple alert sounds. On-going research at BT Laboratories into spatial audio has resulted in a number of leading edge demonstrations and patent applications. This paper introduces the technologies employed to create spatial audio for real-time synthetic worlds including single and multiple users, and non-ideal acoustic environments.

Letters :

Burraston, D. Saving Roland MC4 data to computer. Sound On Sound Vol.12 No.10. August 1997. This was a letter to Chris Carter with regard to his retro-review of the related Roland MC8 MicroComposer. In addition I have added two vital flow chart pages from the MC4B manual, that do not appear in the earlier versions. Chris Carter's article on the MC8 is published on his website.

BSc (Hons) Thesis :

Burraston, D. (1993) : Isolated Word Detection in a Noisy Environment, 1st Class (Hons) in Computing Systems, Nottingham Trent University

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