An attractor characterized by a progressive drive away from equilibrium (1989, p.189).
R. SWENSON states that emergent attractors result from interacting processes – that eventually bifurcate – and are more complex than the processes that formed them (Ibid)
S.J. GAO and F.J. CHARLWOOD distinguish four fundamental types of emergent attractors: Fixed point attractor, periodic attractor, quasi-periodic attractor and chaotic attractor. They state: "… they represent qualitatively different states of the system in different enviromments. The adapting and evolving behavior of the system can be defined as the quantitative change (changes of position in the state space) and qualitative change (changes of type) of these emergent attractors" (1993, p.62)
As examples of emergent attractors R. SWENSON cites: non equilibrium points, limit cycles and chaotic attractors.
He opposes the emergent attractors to equilibrium attractors or points, "by definition characterized by a drive towards it".
The emergent attractor is thus equivalent to a dispersion or radiating center, i.e. a negative attractor that we could call a "repulsor".
According to SWENSON: "Emergent attractors are non- linearities, and nonlinearities are emergent attractors. The spontaneous transformation of a set of atomisms (i.e. elements or components) from an infinitesimal fluctuation to a globally coherent dynamical limit set of macroscopic scale is, by definition, a nonlinear, viz self-amplifying process; the effects of the attractor (drive away from equilibrium) become its causes (the further away it goes, the faster it drives) until some limit is reached.
"When the nonlinear relation ceases to exist, so too does the "object" (flow structure), and its global space-time correlation vanishes into incoherence".(1989, p.189)