"Possible Steps Toward a Theory of Organization"
A distinguishing feature of self-organizing dynamical systems is their evolution from unconstrained, high entropy states to constrained, low entropy states. These systems therefore spontaneously become more constrained as they advance through time, seemingly in contradiction to the second law of thermodynamics. However, it is possible to make the argument--and thereby bring back to bear the framework of thermodynamics--that self-organizing systems do work, in the sense of physics, upon themselves to construct the constraints leading to structure and low entropy. Once a system has formed a structure, and it is constrained, it needs to repeatedly do work on itself to maintain its low entropy, constrained state. The repetition of the performance of work is--in physics--represented by a work cycle. We show that a simple self-organizing ant-foraging model does indeed repeatedly do work during its structure maintenance phase and that this repeated process can be described as a work cycle.