- Series: University Paperbacks
- Paperback: 295 pages
- Publisher: Methuen (June 1979)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0416683002
- ISBN-13: 978-0416683004
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,861,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Introduction to Cybernetics (University Paperbacks)
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Top Customer Reviews
This out-of-print book is considered so important by the people of the Principia Cybernetica Project that they want this book to reach as an wide audience as possible. As their website indicates: "W. Ross Ashby is one of the founding fathers of both cybernetics and systems theory. He developed such fundamental ideas as the homeostat, the law of requisite variety, the principle of self-organization, and the principle of regulatory models."
Of course, nothing goes above getting your hand on a *real* copy of this book, but the next best solution is getting the free e-book version which the Principia Cybernetica Project published on their web site with the agreement of the Ashby estate (the copyright holders). Just search for Principia Cybernetica on the web, and surf from there...
co-author of "7 Steps to Emotional Intelligence"
The impact of those revelations affected my abilities enough that in graduate school cybernetics was made part of the curriculum and later in a business environment the company's middle-management was required to take a course on the subject.
Cybernetics (I prefer Informational Mechanics) is a math similar to geometry except that instead of dealing with shapes and space it deals with change, complex change.
One particularly important aspect of that subject might be labeled the mechanics of human communication. In a nutshell Ashby shows how concepts from Shannon's Information Theory are applicable to human reasoning and communication. Again understanding those concepts is a life altering experience, but not easy.
Learning informational mechanics is a little like learning algebra. You have to understand the fundamentals for it to be useful.
I first read the book in 1957. Fifty-five years later I still refer to it.
There are a number of copycat books that in essence parrot Ashby's vocabulary. They are relatively useless.
To elaborate let me say that one of the goals of any introductory text is to provide a general overview of the subject matter in as clear and concise of manner as possible. Dr. Ashby does one better. Not only does he accomplish this aim, but while doing so he manages to develop a theoretical and technical foundation of understanding that goes right to the bedrock of eternity itself.
For instance one of the most primitive but arcane concepts in all physics is entropy. I personally spent decades trying to reduce entropy to a simple understanding but was always confounded by the "entropy is a measure related to heat engines, but also related to disorder," rhetoric. After all, pragmatically what do heat engines and scrambled eggs have in common? I sure wasn't able to connect the dots in any kind of intelligent way. Moreover it seemed no one else could either. After reading dozens of various books on the matter the explanations of the authors always fell short of offering the simple enlightenment I sought. However, in "Intro to Cybernetics" Dr. Ashby not only explores entropy in a way that is drop-dead simple (the entropy factor is overshadowed by a general principle which governs more than a reservoir of heat energy), but he goes on to show how information and control principles are the flip-side of the entropy principle. Tersely, the entropy principle is abstractly about variety or choice (reflected in Boltzmann's S=kLogW), while information and control is about selection and constraint.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is so mind blowing that i bought 2, so i can give one as a gift to a mathematician i know. Read morePublished 8 months ago by shin
Great book!!! If you like computer science and math, and are very curious, this is a very interesting book written in the 50's by Ross Ashby.Published 13 months ago by Alberto
This print was scanned from a copy borrowed from the Woods Hole Marine Biological Library, the stamp of which appears on page v. Read morePublished on July 9, 2014 by M.W.
This print is extremely poor quality, do not be fooled by the "High Quality" tags on the cover page. I cannot even read the text. Read morePublished on May 31, 2014 by Kevin Chen