1 Cybernetics Definitionsx - churchillcollegebiblio

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Dec 1, 2013 (5 years and 3 months ago)


Definition (Wikipedia)

The term cybernetics stems from the Greek κυβερνήτης (kybernētēs, steersman, governor, pilot,
or rudder

the same root as government). Cybernetics is a broad field of study, but the essential
goal of cybernetics is to understand
and define the functions and processes of systems that have
goals and that participate in circular, causal chains that move from action to sensing to
comparison with desired goal, and again to action. Studies in cybernetics provide a means for
examining th
e design and function of any system, including social systems such as business
management and organizational learning, including for the purpose of making them more efficient
and effective.


"Getting Started" Guide to Cybernetics

What does the w
ord "cybernetics" mean?

"Cybernetics" comes from a Greek word meaning "the art of steering".

Cybernetics is about having a goal and taking action to achieve that goal.

Knowing whether you have reached your goal (or at least are

getting closer to it) req

"feedback", a concept that comes from cybernetics.

From the Greek, "cybernetics" evolved into Latin as "governor".

University of Reading


Cybernetics is a broad subject, transcending traditional academic disciplines, and as such there are
various ways of defining or commenting on the subject.
Here are some of them:

'Control and communication in the animal or in the machine'

the early forma
l definition, used

in the title of his book

'The science of interacting systems

as Cybernetics is not restricted to any one area, it can be
applied to different systems

and typically these systems, or components within them, interact with

other. In a control system, such as a steersman, the controller (eg the steersman) interacts with
the device being controlled (eg the boat), but the boat interacts with the steersman.'

'The acquisition, communication, processing and application of information'

definition used
University of Reading

'The science of effective organization'


Stafford Beer,

who pioneered the application of
cybernetics to management.

'Should one name

one central concept, a first principle, of cybernetics, it would be circularity.'
von Foerster

'A way of thinking'

Ernst von Glasersfeld

'A science concerned with the study of systems of any nature which are capable of receiving, storing,
and proc
essing information so as to use it for control'

A.N. Kolmogorov

'The art of steersmanship'; 'deals with all forms of behavior in so far as they are regular, or
determinate, or reproducible'; 'stands to the real machine
electronic, mechanical, neural, or
much as geometry stands to a real object in our terrestrial space'; 'offers a method for the
scientific treatment of the system in which complexity is outstanding and too important to be

W. Ross Ashby

'A branch of mathematics dealing wit
h problems of control, recursiveness, and information'

Peter Fellgett
, first Professor of Cybernetics at Reading, described Cybernetics as anything that
interested him.