Every good regulator of a system must be a model of that system

Roger C. Conant    W. Ross Ashby   

The design of a complex regulator often includes the making of a model of the system to be regulated. The making of such a model has hitherto been regarded as optional, as merely one of many possible ways. In this paper a theorem is presented which shows, under very broad conditions, that any regulator that is maximally both successful and simple must be isomorphic with the system being regulated. (The exact assumptions are given.) Making a model is thus necessary. The theorem has the interesting corollary that the living brain, so far as it is to be successful and efficient as a regulator for survival, must proceed, in learning, by the formation of a model (or models) of its environment.

Published in 1970

Publisher: International Journal of Systems Science

Open Access link

DOI: 10.1080/00207727008920220


Date added: 08/13/2017

Systems Thinking   

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