Consider a robot that can draw a shape.

Now let's say that this robot can both extend and redraw the shape, such that:

  • The shape becomes larger
  • The current shape changes

Is there a word that can accurately describe this phenomenon?

Words I'm currently thinking of but don't quite capture both the extend and redraw properties: self-morphing, self-modifying, self-extending, procedural (?)


The word should be closely related to the fact that this entity can grow by itself, without external interference.

Edit 2

I've learned my lesson: don't try to find the word to something without explaining the entire context. I apologize for this. Here is the full context of the word:

Let's say there is a model that tries to create Artificial Intelligence (AI). This model learns on-the-go and changes itself accordingly. Therefore, the AI brain can both change and grow. Strictly speaking, the rules according to which the AI changes its model are fixed and predetermined. The model itself is not. This implies that if data (or input) arrives, the model changes such that if subsequent data arrives, the model handles the data differently. I'm trying to describe the separation between models with a predetermined structure and models that have the explained varying structure (preferably in one word). It is important to note that not just the internal properties of the varying model changes (such as its estimates), but that the model can actually create (or grow) completely new areas.

  • 2
    But the robot itself isn't changing shape, so why do you want self- ? Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 21:25
  • Self-morphing would indicate that the robot itself is the shape, and that the robot can change its own shape and size. Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 21:25
  • @FumbleFingers I did a poor job explaining myself: the robot is nothing more but an algorithm that draws a shape. The algorithm doesn't change but the shape does. All that we observe is the shape.
    – Jean-Paul
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 21:33
  • 2
    – ermanen
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 21:39
  • 2
    Auto-adaptative renderer ?
    – Graffito
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 23:58

3 Answers 3


If the algorithm assesses the situation and takes into account its prior successes and failures, if it has access to history (pseudo-memory) and a way to assess the efficacy or suitability of its prior attempts, it could be called adaptive or heuristic.

  • Perfect! Simple but elegant. Thank you.
    – Jean-Paul
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 10:27
  • If the robot changes its own shape, you are looking for "self reconfiguration". These robots are "self-reconfigurable".

Modular self-reconfigurable robots consist of large numbers (hundreds or thousands) of identical modules that possess the ability to reconfigure into different shapes as required by the task at hand. For example, such a robot could start out as a snake to traverse a narrow pipe, then re-assemble itself into a six-legged spider to move over uneven terrain, growing a pair of arms to pick up and manipulate an object at the same time.

  • If the robot changes the shape of a drawing or sketch, you can say it reshapes what it has drawn.
  • that is close! However, I would like the word to express the increasing property too. Instead of robot, you could also think of an algorithm that draws the shape.
    – Jean-Paul
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 21:34
  • @Jean-Paul I'm afraid there isn't a single word for that. Self-reconfiguration is used for any property, both increasing and decreasing.
    – Centaurus
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 21:36
  • @Jean-Paul: The algorithm must either accept new inputs for the shape/size, or have some sort of value generator function. It it accepts new inputs, the algorithm itself isn't changing. If it generates new inputs, the algorithm isn't changing either.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 21:57
  • @TimRomano I guess you are right. The algorithm doesn't change but the shape does. Thing is, the shape sort of defines the functionality of the algorithm. If the shape changes, the algorithm changes too. Indeed, it does this only upon receiving new input.
    – Jean-Paul
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 21:59
  • The algorithm recognizes something and reconfigures itself accordingly?
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 22:00

You mentioned the entity can grow, which sounds a lot like evolution. Considering that it evolves without outside stimuli, I suggest self-evolution; per Merriam Webster:

development by inherent quality or power

  • This is a good one! Thank you! I'll leave the question open for now to see if someone replies with other (maybe even more?) relevant words.
    – Jean-Paul
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 8:12
  • @Jean-Paul that's cool :)
    – Ben
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 14:00

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