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Special Cases of Control

Our scheme defining the phenomenon of control contains a number of distinct components and properties. These components can in the limit be absent (have the value zero). The resulting schemes can be seen as special cases ("limit" or "degenerate" cases) of the more general scheme. The presence of the other components implies that they will stil inherit most of the properties of control from the more general scheme:
  • the action part may be absent or ignored, so that the control relation is reduced to the formation in the controller of a perception of the controlled system. An example of such a relation can be seen in metalanguage and metatheory.
  • If the perception part is absent or grossly inadequate, we face a situation of blind control.
  • In a primitive control system there may be no representation of the controlled system S as distinct from S itself. Information flows directly from S to the controller C. The classical harmonic oscillator is an example of such a control system.
  • the latter situation is a specific case of the more general phenomenon where the asymmetry between controller and controlled is absent, that is to say where the action of controller C on controlled S is not fundamentally different from the action of S on C. Other examples of such symmetric interaction include: communication between two control systems (interaction without fixed goals), conflict (interaction between two control systems with distinct goals), and cooperation or bonds (interaction between two control systems with the same goals).

Copyright© 1996 Principia Cybernetica - Referencing this page

V. Turchin, & F. Heylighen,

Oct 21, 1996


Metasystem Transition Theory



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The Harmonic Oscillator as a Control System

Blind control



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