In this paper we consider the complementary questions: in what sense do local dynamics prescribe global spatial patterns and to what extent does a global pattern impose constraints on local interactions. From the standpoint of results from mathematical system theory, it is argued that a modeling approach starting from observed patterns and passing to local dynamics is vastly to be preferred to proceeding in the opposite direction, the usual approach mimicking the procedure followed in the physical sciences. The paper concludes with a discussion of the role of anticipatory decision making and adaptation in the stabilization of certain properties of dynamical spatial processes.
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