Diagram: Cybernetics


Cybernetics,or 'Kybernetes', from the Greek meaning 'steersman' or 'oarsman', refers to the study of systems that have an internal regulator that in same way 'steers' the system so that it remains targeted to a pre-determined trajectory.

Cybernetic thinking is an early precursor to Complex Systems thinking.  A cybernetic system works to dampen any disturbances or amplifying feedback that would move the trajectory away from a given optimum range. Thermostats work on cybernetic principles, where temperature fluctuations are dampened.

Like CAS, Cybernetics is concerned with how a system interacts with its environment. However, Cybernetics focus on systems subject to negative feedback: ones self-regulating to maintain regimes of stable equilibrium where disruptions (or Perturbations) are dampened. 

As Cybernetics theory is concerned with how systems might self-regulate towards an optimum, its insights were considered to be relevant for any system seeking to optimize performance in the absence of an external regulator. Urban environments are one such system 0 comprised of parts together forming an environment that subsequently (in a recursive loop) regulates and alters the parts within. As such, throughout the 1960s and 1970s a natural offshoot of cybernetic thought was conceptualizing ways in which healthy urban environments might be stabilized through cybernetic principles. 



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Cybernetics, Second Edition: or the Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine

A key early text on Cybernetics, by the father of the field...