Cyber Physical Society

A society usually refers to a large group of people involved in persistent social interaction or sharing of resources. Communities in society are characterized by the patterns of the relationships between individuals who interact or share resources with each other. Modern cities are typical instances of studying society.

The Basic Concept of Cyber-Physical Society

Cyber-Physical Society (or Cyber Physical Society) is a complex space where humans, machines and the natural environment interact with each other, efficiently share resources in cyberspace, physical space and social space and co-evolve with emerging patterns in different spaces.

A more general definition of Cyber Physical Society was given in [5]: The Cyber Physical Society is a multi-dimensional complex space that generates and evolves diverse subspaces to contain different types of individuals interacting with, reflecting or influencing each other directly or through the cyber, physical, socio and mental subspaces. Versatile individuals and socio roles coexist harmoniously yet evolve, provide appropriate on-demand information, knowledge and services for each other, transform from one form into another, interact with each other through various links, and self-organize according to socio value chains. It ensures healthy and meaningful life of individuals, and maintains a reasonable rate of expansion of individuals in light of overall capacity and the material, knowledge, and service flow cycles.

Cyber-Physical Society also refers to the study and practice on the theory, model and methodology on the Future Interconnection Environment that links cyberspace, physical space, social space and mental space according to the laws in these space and some general laws that needs further exploration.

Fig.1 (d) depicts a simple cyber-physical-socio space. Not only individual’s behaviors but also socio interactions can be fed back into the cyber space for further processing. Users have socio characteristics and relations rather than isolated individuals. Sensors are limited in ability to collect all information in the physical space, so users still need to directly collect the significant information in the physical space and then put them into the cyber space after analysis (including experiment). Users can also change physical objects in the physical space, which can also be fed back into the cyber space to reflect the real-time situation. Users’ status, interests and knowledge evolve with interacting with each other and operating the cyber space.

Cyber-Physical-Social Intelligence

Humans consciously and subconsciously establish various links, emerge semantic images and reason in mind, learn linking effect and rules, select linked individuals to interact, and form closed loops through links while co-experiencing in multiple spaces in lifetime. Machines are limited in these abilities although various graph-based models have been used to link resources in the cyber space. The following are fundamental limitations of machine intelligence: (1) machines know little link and rules in the physical space, physiological space, psychological space, socio space and mental space, so it is not realistic to expect machines to discover laws and solve problems in these spaces; and, (2) machines can only process pre-designed algorithms and data structures in the cyber space. They are limited in ability to go beyond the cyber space, to learn linking rules, to know the effect of linking, and to explain computing results according to physical, physiological, psychological and socio laws. Linking various spaces will create a complex space, the Cyber-Physical-Physiological-Psychological-Socio-Mental Environment CP3SME. Diverse spaces will emerge, evolve, compete and cooperate with each other to extend machine intelligence and human intelligence. From multi-disciplinary perspective, paper [4] reviews previous ideas on various links, introduces the concept of cyber-physical society, proposes the ideal of the CP3SME including its definition, characteristics, and multi-disciplinary revolution, and explores the methodology of linking through spaces for cyber-physical-socio intelligence. The methodology includes new models, principles, mechanisms, scientific issues, and philosophical explanation. The CP3SME aims at an ideal environment for humans to live and work. Exploration will go beyond previous ideals on intelligence and computing.

Classification is the most basic method for organizing resources in the physical space, cyber space, socio space and mental space. To create a unified model that can effectively manage resources in different spaces is a challenge. The Resource Space Model RSM is to manage versatile resources with a multi-dimensional classification space. It supports generalization and specialization on multi-dimensional classifications. The paper [3] introduces the basic concepts of RSM, and proposes the Probabilistic Resource Space Model, P-RSM, to deal with uncertainty in managing various resources in different spaces of the cyber-physical society. P-RSM’s normal forms, operations and integrity constraints are developed to support effective management of the resource space. Characteristics of the P-RSM are analyzed through experiments. This model also enables various services to be described, discovered and composed from multiple dimensions and abstraction levels with normal form and integrity guarantees.

The Future Interconnection Environment

As a cyber-infrastructure, the Internet has connected not only computers but also various devices and the people who use the devices such as mobile phones and smart watches. The Internet of Things is a technique that facilitates the connection between the Internet and various devices. The rapid development of various applications on the Internet has accelerated the expansion of data.

A significant transformation is to extend "Things" from devices to the physical space and social space. The thought model for the Future Interconnection Environment was proposed in 2004 [16]. It includes the notion of the ternary universe consists of the physical world, virtual world and mental world and a multi-level reference architecture with the nature and devices at the bottom level followed by the level of the Internet, sensor network, and mobile network, and intelligent human-machine communities at the top level, which supports geographically dispersed users to cooperatively accomplish tasks and solve problems by using the network to actively promote the flow of material, energy, techniques, information, knowledge, and services in this environment. An implementation architecture IMAGINE-1 for e-science application was proposed [15]. This is the first thought model after the The Internet of Things was coined. It envisioned the development trend of the Internet of Things and other research areas like fog computing.

Applications of Cyber-Physical Society

Putting computing into Cyber-Physical Society will significantly transform traditional computing.

Summarisation of things in cyber-physical society.

Studying the basis of interactions among physical objects, data, people, and systems in cyber-physical-social space through a multi-dimensional lens of semantic computing, a creative summarization mechanism was proposed as an effort toward the creative summarization of things, which is an open process of interactions among physical objects, data, people, and systems in cyber-physical-social space through a multi-dimensional lens of semantic computing [1].

Related Works and Events

In 2002, the notion of knowledge flow was proposed for connecting humans, minds, and knowledge transmission devices as well as controlling the process of knowledge sharing processes: "Knowledge flow is invisible, but it works with any cooperative team no matter whether people intentionally make use of it or not. We can imagine the following scenario of the knowledge flow working with a cooperative team. Team members are linked with various types of 'knowledge transmission belts' like the production line. Any team member can put knowledge onto a proper belt, which then automatically conveys the knowledge to the team member who requires it. Any team member can get the required knowledge from the transmission belt linked to him when performing his task. These transmission belts together with the team members constitute a knowledge flow network. People can raise the effectiveness of teamwork by properly designing the network and controlling its execution process." [21] This is the early description of the ideal of the Cyber Physical Society. We still do not know in-depth about the 'knowledge transmission belts', its form, mechanism and principle. "Human cognition and work processes are two inseparable parts of human problem solving, however, the cognitive process is neglected in most research on knowledge-intensive team Cooperation." [20] An approach for modeling these two parts of the process for use by a distributed co-operative team was proposed in 2003. The relation between knowledge flow network in mental space and the citation network in artifact space was further studied in 2005: "The knowledge flow network implicit in the citation network consists of knowledge flows between nodes that process knowledge, including reasoning, fusing, generalizing, inventing, and problem solving, by authors and co-authors." [13]

In 2003, virus in physical space, virus in cyber space, the Web, individual, society, and ecosystem health were linked in the background of fighting epidemics [19]. The authors pointed out: "Connecting nationwide systems through the Internet could create a worldwide eco-environment management service system that would help with collaborative monitoring, simulation, research, management, and control of epidemic situations. Such a system should include globally distributed resources--devices, information, knowledge, and services--that could dynamically and intelligently collaborate to provide effective just-in-time services on demand to help manage an emerging crisis." This ideal is in line with the notions of Web of Things or Internet of Things. In 2005, the effort to connect epidemic network in physical space and the cyber systems was made by Zhuge: "rules of bio-epidemic and e-epidemic inspire scientists to create a live, scalable interconnected environment for effectively managing situations in nature, society, and the digital virtual world." He also pointed out that "Various sensors and sensor networks, mobile digital devices, and robots extend the Internet to a pervasive interconnection environment, which can automatically monitor and collect societal information to form an ideal environment for simulation." [14]

In 2004, the ideal of a harmoniously evolved interconnection environment Eco-Grid from ecosystem point of view was proposed in [17]: "Designed as a complex ecosystem, it balances the competing interests of its numerous species as its social, economic and technological environments evolve." "An Eco-Grid is an open worldwide interconnection environment reflecting the characteristics of natural ecological environments. Its versatile resources and social roles coexist harmoniously yet evolve, provide appropriate on-demand services to one another, are transformed from one form to another, and communicate in terms of information, knowledge, and service flows through social and economic value chains. It maintains a reasonable rate of expansion of useful resources and assimilates waste resources in light of overall environment capacity."

In 2004, The Knowledge Grid pointed out in Chaper 1 "The Knowledge Grid Methodology" [18]: "Modern communication facilitates like the Internet provide people with unprecedented social opportunities for knowledge generation and sharing. However, our increasing computing power and communication bandwidth does not of itself improve this knowledge generation and sharing. To do this, the semantic ability of the facilities that transmit and store knowledge must be improved. Improving our social interaction in this way would help enrich knowledge in our society by supporting social activities at different levels (both the physical and the mental level) and in different environment spaces" and "The Knowledge Grid is a virtual socio grid, where people enjoy and provide services through versatile flow cycles like control flows, material flows, energy flows, information flows and knowledge flows". The methodology is also a valuable reference when developing the Cyber Physical Society.

The Ternary Universe

In 2005, the ideal of the future interconnection environment that connects the nature, society and cyber world was proposed in [15]. Zhuge emphasized the importance of harmonious development of the nature, society, environment and cyber world: "Networks pervade nature, society, and virtual worlds, giving structure and function to a variety of resources and behaviors. Discovering the rules that govern the future interconnection environment is a major challenge." A set of parameters of the future interconnection environment was proposed. "As Figure 1 shows, the future interconnection environment will be a large-scale human-machine environment that unites three worlds: Ideally, this environment will be an autonomous, living, sustainable, and intelligent system within which society and nature evolve cooperatively. It will gather and organize resources into semantically rich forms that both machines and people can easily use. Geographically dispersed users will cooperatively accomplish tasks and solve problems by using the network to actively promote the flow of material, energy, techniques, information, knowledge, and services in this environment."
In 2008, Zhuge proposed the viewpoint that the study of semantics should be carried out in four worlds: real world, mental world, machine world and document world, and studied the mapping and integration between Resource Space Model, OWL and Database [12].

In 2009, he used the term Cyber-Society to represent the ideal of the future interconnection environment. Exploring the ideal he proposed the notion of Interactive Semantics in Artificial Intelligence Journal as interaction is the most basic behavior in the future Cyber Society. The classification based Resource Space Model and the link based Semantic Link Network were integrated to reflect the semantic image. He presented invited talks on Interactive Semantics in the University of Waterloo and the University of Victoria in 2009. Approaches to discover semantic communities and emerging semantics in semantic link network were proposed in this year.

In April of 2010, he presented two invited talks titled "Interactive Semantics in Cyber Physical Society" in the University of Hong Kong and the City University of Hong Kong respectively.

In April of 2010, he used the term Cyber Physical Society to represent the ideal of future interconnection environment in IEEE AINA2010 Keynote in Australia [10]. In his keynote, a Socio-Natural Thought Semantic Link Network is proposed as the method for semantic networking in the Cyber Physical Society. He pointed out "Humans have intelligence to observe and participate in social processes, to think, and to know the effect of establishing a relation. Humans can also actively select appropriate relations and persons according to requirement, situation and social rules. Machines are obviously limited in these abilities. Various graph-based models have been used to connect resources in the cyber space. Two issues are fundamental: (1) machines know little relation in human society and the nature, data structures in machines are for machines to process not for humans to read, so it is not realistic to expect machines to discover social and natural laws and resolve relevant issues without human instruction; and, (2) machines are hard to know the effect of establishing and making use of relations, and to explain computing result according to society and nature. The cause is that machines do not have any worldview. Connecting various networks and machines with nature, society, and even human minds can create a new world where individuals have semantic images that can enhance mutual understanding."

Also in April of 2010, he proposed the notion of Cyber Physical Socio Ecology as a new effort to cross disciplines [7].

CPSocio-SLN is a model and method for semantic networking in the natural physical space, cyber space, social space, and mental space in the Cyber Physical Society. It more focuses on diversity, dynamicity and evolution. Viewing CPSocio-SLN as an evolution process through a series of operations, we investigated its basic operations, completeness and dynamicity before April 2010 [8].

In June of 2010, he presented invited talk titled "Semantic Networking in Cyber Physical Society" in University of Oxford. (see:

In September of 2010, he presented a keynote titled "A Light-Weight Semantics for CyberPhysical Socio Intelligence" at IFIP AI2010 in World Computer Congress 2010.

In August 2010, the grant "Interactive Semantics in Cyber Physical Society" has been approved by the NSF of China (PI: Prof. Hai Zhuge). That means a systematic research will be carried out.

In October, 2010, the 1st Workshop on Cyber Physical Society was held in conjuction with SKG2010. Professor Zhuge published the paper "Cyber Physical Society" on the conference [6].

Prof.Zhuge is invited to present the keynote "The Complex Semantic Space Model" at the 20th IEEE International Conference on Collaboration Technologies and Infrastructures, June 27th-29th, 2011, Paris, France (WETICE2011). The model is promosing in managing various resources in different spaces of the Cyber-Physical Society.


[1] H. Zhuge, Cyber-Physical-Social Intelligence on Human-Machine-Nature Symbiosis, Springer, 2019. ( Abstract and Table of Contents ).

[2] H. Zhuge, Multi-Dimensional Summarisation in Cyber-Physical Society, Elsevier, 2016.

[3] H.Zhuge, Cyber-Physical Society - The science and engineering for future society, Future Generation Computer System, 32(2014)180-186.

[4] H.Zhuge and Y.Xing, Probabilistic Resource Space Model fro Managing Resources in Cyber-Physical Society, IEEE Transactions on Service Computing, 5(3)(2012)404-421.

[5] H.Zhuge, Semantic linking through spaces for cyber-physical-socio intelligence: A methodology, Artificial Intelligence, 175(2011)988-1019.

[6] H.Zhuge, Cyber Physical Society, the 1st Workshop on Cyber Physical Society, in conjunction with the 6th International Conference on Semantics, Knowledge and Grids, Ningbo, China, 2010.

[7] X. Sun, H. Zhuge, and X. Jiang. The Interactive Computing Model for Cyber Physical Society, the 1st Workshop on Cyber Physical Society, in conjunction with the 6th International Conference on Semantics, Knowledge and Grids, Ningbo, China, 2010.

[8] X.Shi and H.Zhuge, Cyber physical socio ecology, Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience, published online on 28 AUG 2010, DOI: 10.1002/cpe.1625.

[9] H. Zhuge and B. Xu, Basic operations, completeness and dynamicity of Cyber Physical Socio semantic link network CPSSocio-SLN, Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience, published online in Sept 2010 DOI:10.1002/cpe.1623.

[10] H.Zhuge, Interactive Semantics, Artificial Intelligence, 174(2010)190-204.

[11] H.Zhuge, Socio-Natural Thought Semantic Link Network: A Method of Semantic Networking in the Cyber Physical Society, Keynote at IEEE AINA 2010, Perth, Australia, 20-23 April 2010, pp.19-26.

[12] H.Zhuge, Communities and Emerging Semantics in Semantic Link Network: Discovery and Learning, IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering, vol.21, no.6, 2009, pp. 785-799.

[13] H.Zhuge, Y.Xing and P.Shi, Resource Space Model, OWL and Database: Mapping and Integration, ACM Transactions on Internet Technology, 8/4, 2008.

[14] H.Zhuge, Discovery of Knowledge Flow in Science, Communications of the ACM, 49 (5) (2006) 101-107.

[15] H.Zhuge, Exploring an Epidemic in an E-Science Environment, Communications of the ACM, 48(9)(2005)109-114.

[16] H.Zhuge, The Future Interconnection Environment, IEEE Computer, 38(4)(2005)27-33.

[17] H.Zhuge, Future Interconnection Environment – Dream, Principle, Challenge and Practice, Keynote at the 5th International Conference on Web-Age Information Management,WAIM 2004: Advances in Web-Age Information Management, July 15-17, 2004, pp. 13-22.

[18] H.Zhuge and X. Shi, Toward the Eco-grid: A Harmoniously Evolved Interconnection Environment. Communications of the ACM, 47(9)(2004)78-83.

[19] H.Zhuge, The Knowledge Grid, World Scientific, 2004, 2010 (2nd edition).

[20] H.Zhuge and X.Shi, Fighting epidemics in the information and knowledge age, IEEE Computer, Oct, 2003, pp.114-116.

[21] H.Zhuge, Workflow-and agent-based cognitive flow management for distributed team cooperation, Information and Management, 5(40)(2003)419-429.

[22] H.Zhuge, A knowledge flow model for peer-to-peer team knowledge sharing and management, Expert Systems with Applications, 23(1)(2002)23-30.

Relevant Notions

The Internet of Things
It is an evolving concept so it is still unclear who proposed this concept for the first time formally in scientific media. The early connecting various devices to the Internet is different from the later idea of connecting physical objects.

A Cyber-Physical System (CPS)
A system featuring a tight combination of, and coordination between, computational and physical elements. National Science Foundation of American proposed this concept in 2006. There has been many cyber-physical sytems already in use such as various robots and airplanes before the concept was proposed.

Cyber-Physical-Social System
From system point of view, Cyber-Physical Society can also be regarded as a complex system consisting of cyber subsystem, physical subsystem and social subsystem. From this view, there is no significant difference between Cyber-Physical Society and Cyber-Physical-Social System. However, a limitation of this view is that the influence from other subsystems is often neglected when studying the current subsystem.


International Workshop on Cyber-Physical Society(IWCPS2011)

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