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(l) Metaphor, that image which determines another
image. (Rogers) (2) An association of a certain object(s) from
one set with each object from another set (mathematics).
(Rogers) (3) The normal or characteristic action of a system of
entities, generally in time. (Iberall) (4) The variation of
some magnitude that depends upon the variation of some other
magnitude. (Iberall) (5) a notion that arises in the
description made by the observer of the components of a machine
or system in reference to an encompassing entity, which may be
the whole machine or part of it and whose states constitute the
goal that the changes in the components are to bring about.
(Maturana and Varela, 1979)
In mathematics, a relation between two or more variables so that the values of one are dependent on, determined by or correspond to values in the other variables, its arguments; a TRANSFORMATION whose range is uniquely specified by its domain. In algebra and set theory, functions are often called many-to-one mappings or images. In processes of communication, functions are found in equivocating (see equivocation) codes. There is no presumption that a function must take numbers as arguments, nor that the correspondence be lawful. It can result from entirely arbitrary conventions (see symbol). The structural-functional school of sociology sees the parts of a social system to behave in such a way that they satisfy human and social needs and maintain one another and the totality. In this theory, regularly occurring acts that serve this purpose are called functions whereas those opposed to this are called dysfunctions. (Krippendorff)