Cybernetics • Requisite Variety • Selection 11

Ashby now takes a few steps back from the picture of regulation in biological systems, setting out the framework he needs for a broader perspective on regulation in general.

Requisite Variety

11/1.   In the previous chapter we considered regulation from the biological point of view, taking it as something sufficiently well understood.  In this chapter we shall examine the process of regulation itself, with the aim of finding out exactly what is involved and implied.  In particular we shall develop ways of measuring the amount or degree of regulation achieved, and we shall show that this amount has an upper limit.

11/2.   The subject of regulation is very wide in its applications, covering as it does most of the activities in physiology, sociology, ecology, economics, and much of the activities in almost every branch of science and life.  Further, the types of regulator that exist are almost bewildering in their variety.  One way of treating the subject would be to deal seriatim with the various types;  and chapter 12 will, in fact, indicate them.  In this chapter, however, we shall be attempting to get at the core of the subject — to find what is common to all.

What is common to all regulators, however, is not, at first sight, much like any particular form.  We will therefore start anew in the next section, making no explicit reference to what has gone before.  Only after the new subject has been sufficiently developed will we begin to consider any relation it may have to regulation.


  • 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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2 Responses to Cybernetics • Requisite Variety • Selection 11

  1. Pingback: Survey of Cybernetics • 1 | Inquiry Into Inquiry

  2. Pingback: Survey of Cybernetics • 2 | Inquiry Into Inquiry

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