Chrystopher L. Nehaniv


Contact InformationChrystopher L. Nehaniv

Phone: 519-888-4567 x40168
Location: E7 6322

Biography Summary

Chrystopher Nehaniv is a Mathematician, Computer Scientist, Complex Adaptive Systems Researcher, and, since August 2018, Full Professor in the Departments of Systems Design Engineering and of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. He is also affiliated with the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom, where he served as Director of the Centre for Computer Science & Informatics Research prior to coming to Canada, leading research in the Algorithms, Adaptive Systems, and Wolfson Royal Society Biocomputation Research Groups there as Professor of Mathematical and Evolutionary Computer Sciences. Previously, he held positions as full professor at the University of Aizu in Japan, and visiting professor in Mathematics at Ibaraki National University, Japan, and at the Institute for Mathematics & Informatics at the University of Debrecen in Hungary, as well as post-doctoral research fellow and lecturer in Mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is founder of the Waterloo Algebraic Intelligence & Computation Laboratory (WAICL), and with Prof. Kerstin Dautenhahn, a co-founder of the University of Waterloo's Social and Intelligent Robotics Research Laboratory (SIRRL). Professor Nehaniv is also a member of the Waterloo AI Institute and the steering committee of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation (WICI). He serves as Associate Editor for the journals BioSystems, IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems, and Interaction Studies, and as Topic Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems for the topics of AI Robotics and Human-Machine/Robot Interaction, and has served on the IEEE Task Force for Artificial Life and Complex Adaptive Systems since its founding in 2003, as Chair (2012-2018), Vice Chair (2018-), and on the IEEE Cognitive and Developmental Systems Technical Committee (2019-) of the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society.


SYDE 710 - Topics in Mathematics: Algebraic Structure of Discrete Dynamical Systems (Winter 2019)

SYDE/ECE 750: Artificial Life: Biology & Computation (Spring 2019)

SYDE/ECE 750: Artificial Life: Embodied Intelligence (Fall 2019)

Research Interests

  • Algebraic Methods in Algorithms & Applications
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Artificial Life & Complex Adaptive Systems
  • Algebra & Discrete-Event Dynamical Systems:
  • Automata, Permutation Groups, Transformation Semigroups, Interaction Machines, Models of Time
  • Systems Biology & Neuroscience: Mathematical & Computational Methods
  • Gene-Regulatory Networks & Differentiated Multicellularity
  • Interactive Systems Design
  • Cognitive Architectures for AI Robotics
  • Enactive Experiential & Temporally Extended Intelligence
  • Evolvability
  • Cognitive/Social/ Skill & Linguistic Development in Animals & Artifacts
  • Dynamic Networks
  • Whole-Part Relations/Natural Subsystems
  • Global Hierarchical Coordinate Systems for Understanding/Prediction/Manipulation in STEM


  • 1992, Doctorate, Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley
  • 1987, Bachelor of Science (BSc), Mathematics (with studies in Psychology, Biology, Linguistics, Computer Science), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Selected/Recent Publications

  • Frank Förster, Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, and Joe Saunders, "Robots that Say 'No': Affective Symbol Grounding and the Case of Intent Interpretations", IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems, (published online 27 November 2017), 10(3):530-544, 2018. DOI: 10.1109/TCDS.2017.2752366 early access articles: (Accepted in 2017)
  • Gábor Horváth, Chrystopher L. Nehaniv and Károly Podoski, "The Maximal Subgroups and the Complexity of the Flow Semigroup of Finite (Di)graphs", International Journal of Algebra and Computation, (submitted 12 August 2016, accepted 23 August 2017, e-pub 26 September 2017, [math.CO], Volume 27, Issue 07, November 2017. pp. 863-886. Solves a decades old conjecture of John Rhodes. (Accepted in 2017)
  • Caroline Lyon, Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, Joe Saunders, Tony Belpaeme, Ambra Bisio, Kerstin Fischer, Frank Förster, Hagen Lehmann, Giorgio Metta, Vishwanathan Mohan, Anthony Morse, Stefano Nolfi, Francesco Nori, Katharina Rohlfing, Alessandra Sciutti, Jun Tani, Elio Tuci, Britta Wrede, Arne Zeschel and Angelo Cangelosi, "Embodied Language Learning and Cognitive Bootstrapping: Methods and Design Principles", International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems, 13:105, 2016. doi: 10.5772/63462. [Print ISSN 1729-8806 Online ISSN 1729-8814] (Accepted in 2016)
  • Gábor Horváth and Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, "Length of polynomials over finite groups", Journal of Computer and System Sciences, 81(8):1614-1622, 2015 [ISSN: 0022-0000] [ ] (Accepted in 2015)
  • Attila Egri-Nagy and Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, "Symmetries of Automata", Algebra and Discrete Mathematics, 19(1):48-57, January/March 2015. (Special issue dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Professor Lev Arkadjevich Kaluzhnin) [ISSN: 1726-3255] (Accepted in 2015)
  • C. L. Nehaniv, J. L. Rhodes, A. Egri-Nagy, P. Dini, E. Rothstein Morris, Gábor Horváth, F. Karimi, D. Schreckling, and M. J. Schilstra. (2015) "Symmetry Structure in Discrete Models of Biochemical Systems: Natural Subsystems and the Weak Control Hierarchy in a New Model of Computation Driven by Interactions", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 373: 20140223. [ ISSN: 1364-503X] (Accepted in 2014)
  • Frank Broz, Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, Tony Belpaeme, Ambra Bisio, Kerstin Dautenhahn, Luciano Fadiga, Tomassino Ferrauto, Kerstin Fischer, Frank Förster, Onofrio Gigliotta, Sascha Griffiths, Hagen Lehmann, Katrin S. Lohan, Caroline Lyon, Davide Marocco, Gianluca Massera, Giorgio Metta, Vishwanathan Mohan, Anthony Morse, Stefano Nolfi, Francesco Nori, Martin Peniak, Karola Pitsch, Katharina J. Rohlfing, Gerhard Sagerer, Yo Sato, Joe Saunders, Lars Schillingmann, Alessandra Sciutti, Vadim Tikhanoff, Britta Wrede, Arne Zeschel and Angelo Cangelosi, "The ITALK Project: A Developmental Robotics Appr (Accepted in 2014)
  • Tom Anthony, Daniel Polani, Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, "General Self-Motivation and Strategy Identification: Case Studies Based on Sokoban and Pac-Man", IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games, 6(1):1-17, March 2014. [ISSN: 1943-068X] [DOI: 10.1109/TCIAIG.2013.2295372] (Accepted in 2013)
  • Caroline Lyon, Chrystopher L Nehaniv, J Saunders (2012) "Interactive Language Learning by Robots: The Transition from Babbling to Word Forms". PLoS ONE 7(6): e38236. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038236 (Accepted in 2012)
  • Katrin S. Lohan, Katharina J. Rohlfing, Karola Pitsch, Joe Saunders, Hagen Lehmann, Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, Kerstin Fischer and Britta Wrede, "Tutor Spotter: Proposing a Feature Set and Evaluating It in a Robotic System", International Journal of Social Robotics, 4(2): 131-146, 2012. DOI 10.1007/s12369-011-0125-8 (Accepted in 2012)
  • Capdepuy, P., Polani, D., Nehaniv, C. (2012), "Perception-action loops of multiple agents : informational aspects and the impact of coordination", Theory in Biosciences 131(3): 149-159. [ISSN 1431-7613] (Accepted in 2012)
  • Kerstin Dautenhahn, Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, Michael L. Walters, Ben Robins, Hatice Kose-Bagci, N. Assif Mirza, Michael Blow, "KASPAR - A Minimally Expressive Humanoid Robot for Human-Robot Interaction Research". Special Issue on "Humanoid Robots", Applied Bionics and Biomechanics, published by Taylor and Francis, 6(3-4): 369--397, 2009. [ISSN: 1754-2103 (electronic) 1176-2322 (paper)] DOI 10.1080/11762320903123567 (Accepted in 2009)
  • Moritz Buck & Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, "Looking for Evidence of Differentiation and Cooperation: Natural Measures for the Study of Evolution of Multicellularity", Advances in Complex Systems, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 255-271, 2009. [ISSN: 0219-5259 print, ISSN: 1793-6802 online] DOI No: 10.1142/S0219525909002222 (Accepted in 2009)
  • W. C. Ho, K. Dautenhahn, C. L. Nehaniv, "Computational memory architectures for autobiographic agents interacting in a complex virtual environment: a working model", Connection Science, vol. 20(1):21-65, 2008. [ISSN 0954-0091, ISSN Online 1360-0494] (Accepted in 2008)
  • Attila Egri-Nagy & Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, "Algebraic Properties of Automata Associated to Petri Nets and Applications to Computation in Biological Systems", BioSystems, 94(1-2):135-144, 2008. [ISSN: 0303-2647] (Accepted in 2008)
  • A. Egri-Nagy & C. L. Nehaniv, "Hierarchical Coordinate Systems for Understanding Complexity and Its Evolution, With Applications to Genetic Regulatory Networks", Artificial Life (Special Issue on Evolution of Complexity), 14(3):299-312, 2008. [ISSN: 1064-5462] (Accepted in 2008)
  • Moritz Buck & Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, "Communication and Complexity in a GRN-based Multicellular System for Graph Colouring", BioSystems 94(1-2):28-33, 2008. [ISSN: 0303-2647 (Accepted in 2008)
  • J. F. Knabe, C. L. Nehaniv, & M. J. Schlilstra, "Do Motifs Reflect Evolved Function? - No Convergent Evolution of Genetic Regulatory Network Subgraph Topologies", BioSystems 94(1-2):68-74, 2008. [ISSN: 0303-2647] (Accepted in 2008)
  • Alexander S. Klyubin, Daniel Polani, Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, "Keep Your Options Open: An Information-Based Driving Principle for Sensorimotor Systems", PLoS ONE 3(12): e4018. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004018, 24 December 2008. (Accepted in 2008)
  • A. Egri-Nagy, C. L. Nehaniv, J. L. Rhodes, & M. J. Schilstra, "Automatic Analysis of Computation in BioChemical Reactions", BioSystems, 94(1-2):126-134, 2008. [ISSN: 0303-2647] (Accepted in 2008)
  • Gábor Horváth, Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, and Csaba Szabó, "An Assertion Corncerning Functionally Complete Algebras and NP-completeness", Theoretical Computer Science, Vol. 407, 591-595, 2008. [ISSN: 0304-3975] (Accepted in 2008)
  • Naeem Assif Mirza, Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, Kerstin Dautenhahn, René te Boekhorst, "Grounded Sensorimotor Interaction Histories in an Information Theoretic Metric Space for Robot Ontogeny", Adaptive Behavior, 15(2): 167-187 , 2007. [ISSN: 1059-7123 eISSN: 1741-2633] (Accepted in 2007)
  • Joe Saunders, Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, Kerstin Dautenhahn, and Aris Alissandrakis, "Self-Imitation and Environmental Scaffolding for Robot Teaching", International Journal of Advanced Robotics Systems, 4(1):109-124, 2007. [ISSN 1729-8806] (Accepted in 2007)
  • Alexander S. Klyubin, Daniel Polani, & Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, "Representations of Space and Time in the Maximization of Information Flow in the Perception-Action Loop", Neural Computation, 19: 2387-2432 (2007). [ISSN (printed) 0899-7667, ISSN (electronic): 1530-888X]. (Accepted in 2007)
  • L. Olsson, C. L. Nehaniv, & D. Polani, "From Unknown Sensors and Actuators to Actions Grounded in Sensorimotor Perceptions", Connection Science, special issue on Developmental Robotics (Douglas Bank and Lisa Meeden, guest editors), volume 18(2):121-144, 2006. [ISSN 0954-0091, ISSN Online 1360-0494] (Accepted in 2006)
  • C. L. Nehaniv, "Asynchronous Automata Networks Can Emulate Any Synchronous Automata Network", International Journal of Algebra & Computation, Vol. 14. Nos. 5 & 6 (2004), pp. 719-739. [ISSN: 0218-1967] (Accepted in 2004)
  • Elena Antonova and Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, "Towards the Mind of a Humanoid: Does a Cognitive Robot Need a Self? -- Lessons from Neuroscience". In: Takagashi Ikegami, Nathaniel Virgo, Olaf Witkowski, Muzuki Oka, Reiji Suzuki and Hiroyuki Iizuka, Eds., Proceedings of the Artificial Life Conference 2018 - Beyond AI (ALIFE 2018 - Tokyo, Japan), MIT Press, pp. 412-419, 2018. (Accepted in 2018)
  • Chrystopher L. Nehaniv and Elena Antonova, "Simulating and Reconstructing Neurodynamics with Epsilon-Automata Applied to Electroencephalography (EEG) Microstate Sequences", IEEE Symposium on Computational Intelligence, Cognitive Algorithms, Mind, and Brain (IEEE CCMB'17), at IEEE Symposium Series on Computational Intelligence, 27 November - 1 December 2017, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A., pp. 1753-1761, IEEE Press, 2017. (best paper nominee). arXiv:1710.02387 [q-bio.NC] (Accepted in 2017)
  • Daniel Schreckling, Eric Rothstein Morris, and Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, "LIFE: Load Balancing Inspired by Filament Structures", Proc. 3rd BIOMICS Workshop: 8-10th February 2016, University of Passau, Germany, pp 177-186, 2016. (Accepted in 2016)
  • Attila Egri-Nagy and Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, "Computational Understanding and Manipulation of Symmetries". In: S.K. Chalup et al. (Eds.): Australasian Conference on Artificial Life and Computational Intelligence (ACALCI 2015), Springer Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, Vol. 8955, pp. 17-30, Springer Verlag (2015). [(algebraic understanding of the Rubik's Cube) arXiv:0908.3091] (Accepted in 2015)
  • Attila Egri-Nagy, James D. Mitchell, Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, "SgpDec: Cascade (De)Compositions of Finite Transformation Semigroups and Permutation Groups", Mathematical Software - ICMS 2014, Lecture Notes in Computer Science Volume 8592, pp 75-82, Springer Verlag, 2014. [arXiv:1501.03217] (Accepted in 2014)
  • Attila Egri-Nagy, James D. Mitchell, Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, "SgpDec: Cascade (De)Compositions of Finite Transformation Semigroups and Permutation Groups", Mathematical Software - ICMS 2014, Lecture Notes in Computer Science Volume 8592, pp 75-82, Springer Verlag, 2014. [arXiv:1501.03217] (Accepted in 2014)
  • Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, Frank Förster, Joe Saunders, Frank Broz, Elena Antonova, Hatice Köse, Caroline Lyon, Hagen Lehmann, Yo Sato, and Kerstin Dautenhahn, "Interaction and Experience in Enactive Intelligence and Humanoid Robotics", Proc. IEEE Symposium on Artificial Life (IEEE ALIFE), IEEE Symposium Series on Computational Intelligence (IEEE SSCI 2013) - Singapore, 15-19 April 2013, pp. 148-155, 2013. (Accepted in 2013)
  • Kerstin Fischer, Katrin Lohan, Joe Saunders, Chrystopher Nehaniv, Britta Wrede, Katharina Rohlfing, "The impact of the contingency of robot feedback on HRI", Proc. IEEE 2013 International Conference on Collaboration Technologies and Systems (CTS), pp. 210-217, 2013. (Accepted in 2013)
  • Katrin Solveig Lohan, Katharina J. Rohlfing, Joe Saunders, Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, Britta Wrede (2012) "Contingency scaffolds language learning" In: Proc. 2012 IEEE Int Conf on Development and Learning and Epigenetic Robotics: ICDL, IEEE. [DOI: 10.1109/DevLrn.2012.6400848] (Accepted in 2012)
  • Saunders, J. , Lehmann, H. , Foerster, F. & Nehaniv, C. (2012) "Robot Acquisition of Lexical Meaning: Moving Towards the Two-word Stage", In: Proc. 2012 IEEE Intl Conf on Development and Learning and Epigenetic Robotics (ICDL 2012), IEEE. [DOI: 10.1109/DevLrn.2012.6400588] (Accepted in 2012)
  • Nicholas Oros & Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, "Dude, Where is My Sex Gene? --- Persistence of Sex over Evolutionary Time in Cellular Automata", Proc. 2nd International IEEE Symposium on Artificial Life (Nashville, Tennessee, USA - 30 March-2 April 2009), IEEE, 2009. [Winner of Best Student Paper Award] (Accepted in 2009)
  • N. A. Mirza, C. L. Nehaniv, K. Dautenhahn, R. te Boekhorst, "Developing Social Action Capabilities in a Humanoid Robot using an Interaction History Architecture", Humanoids 2008, IEEE Press. (Accepted in 2008)
  • J. F. Knabe, M. J. Schilstra, & C. L. Nehaniv, "Evolution and Morphogenesis of Differentiated Multicellular Organisms: Autonomously Generated Diffusion Gradients for Positional Information", Artificial Life XI, MIT Press, 2008. (Accepted in 2008)
  • Nicolas Oros and Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, "Sexyloop: Self-Reproduction, Evolution and Sex in Cellular Automata". The First IEEE Symposium on Artificial Life (April 1-5, 2007, Hawaii, USA), pp. 130-138, 2007. (Accepted in 2007)
  • Chrystopher L. Nehaniv and Patrick Quick, "Emulation of Synchronous Automata Networks with Dynamically Changing Topologies by Asynchronous Automata Networks", Proc. Seventh International Workshop on Information Processing in Cells and Tissues (IPCAT 2007), 29th - 31st August 2007, Jesus College, Oxford. pp. 20-29, 2007 [ISBN 978-80-87139-68-4] (Accepted in 2007)
  • Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, Naeem Assif Mirza, and Lars Olsson, "Development via Information Self-structuring of Sensorimotor Experience and Interaction", book chapter for edited collection based on invited lecture at the 50th Anniversary Summit of Artificial Intelligence (Monte Verita, Switzerland - 9-14 July 2006), M. Lungarella et al. (Eds.): 50 Years of AI, Festschrift, LNAI 4850, pp. 87-98, 2007 (Accepted in 2007)
  • A. S. Klyubin, D. Polani, C. L. Nehaniv, "All Else Being Equal Be Empowered", Advances in Artficial Life, European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL 2005), Editors: M. S. Capcarrere, A. A. Freitas, P. J. Bentley, C. G. Johnson, J. Timmisi, Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence vol. 3630, pp. 744-753, Springer Verlag, 2005. [ISBN: 3-540-28848-1] (Accepted in 2005)
  • Alexander Klyubin, Daneil Polani, Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, "Empowerment: A Universal Agent-Centric Measure of Control", IEEE CEC 2005 (2005 Congress on Evolutionary Computation, 2-5 September 2005, Edinburgh, Scotland), Proceedings Vol. 1, pp. 128-135, 2005. [ISBN: 0-7803-9363-5]. (Accepted in 2005)
  • C. L. Nehaniv, "Evolution in Asynchronous Cellular Automata", Artificial Life VIII, MIT Press, pp. 65-73, 2002. (Accepted in 2002)
  • C. L. Nehaniv, "Self-Reproduction in Asynchronous Cellular Automata", 2002 NASA/DoD Conference on Evolvable Hardware (15-18 July 2002, Alexandria, Virginia, USA), IEEE Computer Society Press, pp. 201-209, 2002. (Accepted in 2002)
  • Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, "Constructive Biology of Emotion Systems: First- and Second-person Methods for Grounding Adaptation in a Biological and Social World". In: M.I.A. Ferreira, J.S. Sequeira, and R. Ventura, Eds. Cognitive Architectures, Springer Verlag, pp. 105-128, 2019. (Accepted in 2018)
  • C. L. Nehaniv, D. Polani, L. Olsson, A. S. Klyubin, "Information-Theoretic Modeling of Sensory Ecology: Channels of Organism-Specific Meaningful Information", Modeling Biology: Structures, Behavior, Evolution (Manfred D. Laubichler & Gerd B. Müller, Editors), The Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology, MIT Press, pp. 241-281, 2007. [ISBN 978-0-262-12291-7] (Accepted in 2007)
  • John Rhodes, Applications of Automata Theory and Algebra via the Mathematical Theory of Complexity to Finite-State Physics, Biology, Philosophy, and Games, editor: C. L. Nehaniv, foreword by Morris W. Hirsch, World Scientific Press, 2010. ISBN: 978-981-283-696-0 (hardcover), ISBN: 978-981-283-697-7 (paperback) (Accepted in 2010)
  • Pál Dömösi and Chrystopher L. Nehaniv, Algebraic Theory of Finite Automata Networks: An Introduction, SIAM Monographs on Discrete Mathematics and Applications 11 (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Philadelphia), 2005. [ISBN: 0-89871-569-5] (Accepted in 2005)