Assembly theory explains and quantifies selection and evolution

“Assembly theory explains and quantifies selection and evolution” by Sharma, Czegel, Lachman, Kempes, Walker, and Cronin (Nature, Vol 622, 2023)


Assembly Theory (AT) “conceptualizes objects not as point particles, but as entities defined by their possible formation histories”. This reminds me of natural histories in general. How an organism can be characterizd by not only its DNA and taxonomic classification, but also its sequence of experiences. I think about this a lot in terms of our individual neuroconnectomes, and how vastly different two humans life experiences can be and how this can shape their understanding and experience of mind and self, and yet still be classified within a single “point” of political classification. I’m curious if this article will offer some fresh appartus to advance my ponderings.

In the history of evolution, I gather that Assembly Theory has arrived on the scene to offer a fresh take on how we might characterize a set of objects; “objects can be characterized through a forward dynamical process considering thier assembly.”


  • object An object is finite, is distinguishable, persists over time and is breakable such that the set of constraints to construct it from elementary building blocks is quantifiable.

Key Concepts

  • The more complex a given object, the less likely an identical copy can exist without selection of some information-driven mechansim that generates the object.

  • “In AT, we recognize that the smallest unit of matter is typically defined by the limts of observaational measurements and may not itself be fundamental.”