Cybernetics • Requisite Variety • Selection 13

Our venture into cybernetics, the study of systems whose time evolution signifies an object, brings us to the point of seeing how pragmatic, semiotic, and systems thinking all have triadic relations at their core.

Recall the game between R and D determined by the following data:

Ashby Cybernetics Table 11.3.1

We continue with Ashby’s analysis of how the game plays out.

Requisite Variety

11/3.[cont.]   Examination of the table soon shows that with this particular table R can win always.  Whatever value D selects first, R can always select a Greek letter that will give the desired outcome.  Thus if D selects 1, R selects \beta;  if D selects 2, R selects \alpha;  and so on.  In fact, if R acts according to the transformation

Ashby Cybernetics Figure 11.3.2

then he can always force the outcome to be a.

R\text{'s} position, with this particular table, is peculiarly favourable, for not only can R always force a as the outcome, but he can as readily force, if desired, b or c as the outcome.  R has, in fact, complete control of the outcome.


  • 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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