Cybernetics • Regulation In Biological Systems • Selection 6

Regulation In Biological Systems


Ashby Cybernetics Figure 10.5.2

10/6.   Regulation blocks the flow of variety.   On what scale can any particular mechanism F be measured for its value or success as a regulator?  The perfect thermostat would be one that, in spite of disturbance, kept the temperature constant at the desired level.  In general, there are two characteristics required:  the maintenance of the temperature within close limits, and the correspondence of this range with the desired one.  What we must notice in particular is that the set of permissible values, \eta, has less variety than the set of all possible values in E;  for \eta is some set selected from the states of E.  If F is a regulator, the insertion of F between D and E lessens the variety that is transmitted from D to E.  Thus an essential function of F as a regulator is that it shall block the transmission of variety from disturbance to essential variable.


  • Ashby, W.R. (1956), An Introduction to Cybernetics, Chapman and Hall, London, UK.  Republished by Methuen and Company, London, UK, 1964.  Online.

cc: CyberneticsOntolog ForumStructural ModelingSystems Science

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3 Responses to Cybernetics • Regulation In Biological Systems • Selection 6

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