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Cybernetics

This page was last updated on September 18, 2013
‘… the science of observing systems’
— Heinz von Foerster

Introduction

  • Norbert Wiener, a mathematician, introduced the term cybernetics.
  • Other key people in this field are Warren McCulloch and Jay Forrester.
  • Cybernetics refers to the science of communication and control in the animal, machine, and society.
  • It is the interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems.
  • The term cybernetics originated from Greek word ‘kubernetes’ means ‘steering’ and ‘governor’ in Latin.
  • Cybernetics is closely related to information theory, systems theory and control theory.
  • It operates on two levels:
    • study of an observed system - 1st-order cybernetics.
    • study of the people studying a system - 2nd-order cybernetics.
  • Cybernetics is defined as the study of systems and processes that interact with themselves and produce themselves from themselves. (

Major Concepts

  • Cybernetics introduces the concept of circularity and circular causal systems.
  • Systems are defined by boundaries.
  • Every system has a goal.
  • System acts, aims toward the goal.
  • Environment affects aim.
  • Information returns to system — ‘feedback’.
  • System measures difference between state and goal
  • Detects ‘error’.
  • System corrects action to aim toward goal.
  • Cycle repeat.

Scope & Application Cybernetics

  • Basis of modern communication systems.
  • Application in cognitive science for modeling of learning.
  • Application in management science.

Conclusion

  • Cybernetics is applicable in any discipline relying on feedback processes including health sciences, sociology and psychology, which are based on communication process.

References

  1. Steve J. Heims (1980), John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener: From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, 3. Aufl., Cambridge.

 

 

 
 
 
             
 

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