Active Regulation
Active Regulation
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Active Regulation

Last updated on 2014-10-03

About the Book

Active Regulation is Volume 3 in the General Systems Thinking series that begins with the world-wide best-selling, An Introduction to General Systems Thinking. (also available in ebook formats) That first series volume focused on the question,"Why do we see what we see?" The second and third books tackle the next question, namely "Why do things stay the same?"

Most people take for granted the stability they see in the world, but for systems thinkers, stability is one of the most fundamental properties, and puzzles, about the systems they struggle to understand and create. Indeed, it's such a fundamental property that it forms the topic of both this volume and its predecessor, Passive Regulation (Volume 2 in the series). 

Originally part of the book, On the Design of Stable Systems, in its first, hardcover incarnation, Active Regulationdoes not just focus on computer systems, but systems of all kinds—human, natural, and technological. 

In a highly readable, original presentation the Weinbergs here explore the subtle art and science of regulating systems, projects, and people in the most efficient and logical manner possible. The authors draw on their respective backgrounds in technology and social science to offer fresh insights and translate them into a language that anyone can understand.

In the course of this presentation, and with the help of dozens of figures, the Weinbergs introduce a host of laws and theorems derived from the best thinking of systems thinkers over the past century. For the most part, the regulation schemes examined in this volume are based on error-controlled regulation—in many ways the most effective of all regulation strategies.

Chapters include:

• The Search for Regulation

• The Homeostatic Heuristics

• Other Regulatory Heuristics

• Types of Regulatory Mechanisms

• Regulation and Environment

• When the Model Fails

• Making Regulation Mysterious

• Overly Simple Views of Regulation

• Blindness and Reversed Vision

The book also contains an extensive bibliography and an appendix explaining some useful mathematical notation.

In addition to being a reference book for professional and lay people alike, Active Regulation is suitable as an undergraduate text in the humanities, social, natural, and engineering sciences. It is unique in its approach, highly readable, and offers practical ways of solving problems.

Table of Contents

  • Active Regulation: General Systems Design Principles
  • Preface to the E-book Edition
  • Original Preface
    • Bibliographic Note
    • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1 • The Search for Regulation
    • The Problem of Multidimensional Regulation
    • Separation of Variables
    • The First Law of Regulatory Compromise
    • The Second Law of Regulatory Compromise
    • QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
      • 1. Pugilism
      • 2. Military and Police Science
      • 3. Government
      • 4. Social Psychology
      • 5. Writing
  • Chapter 2 • The Homeostatic Heuristics
    • The Internal Environment
    • Identifying and Essential Variables
    • The Homeostatic Principles
      • The Pervasiveness Principle
      • The Perversity Principle
      • The Plait Principle
      • The Pilot Principle and the Polarity Principle
    • QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
      • 1. Organization of Writing Projects
      • 2. Design of Problems
  • Chapter 3 • Other Regulatory Heuristics
    • The Feedback Principle
    • Analyzing Feedback Loops
    • The Piddling Principle
      • Where is the set point?
      • Ponderous or Piddling?
      • Scavenger Systems
      • The Foodback Principle
    • The Parallel Principle
    • QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
      • 1. Sociology
      • 2. Anthropology
      • 3. Plumbing and History
      • 4. Lichenology
      • 5. Medicine and Dentistry
      • 6. Medicine, Dentistry, and all other Professions
      • 7. Football and Other Sports
      • 8. Incarceration
      • 9. Parallel Lifetimes
      • 10. Symbiosis
      • 11. Regulation of Population Size―Faginism
      • 12. Block Diagrams
  • Chapter 4 • Types of Regulatory Mechanisms
    • Conditional and Unconditional Mechanisms
    • Error-Control
    • Limitations of Error-Control
    • Anticipation
    • QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
      • 1. Economics
      • 2. Political Science
      • 3. Political Science
  • Chapter 5 • Regulation and Environment
    • Acting on the Environment
    • The Environment Regulation Laws
    • The Regulatory Model
    • The Game of Regulation
    • QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
      • 1. Animal Domestication
      • 2. Revolutionary Journalism
      • 3. Feedback Versus Non-feedback Systems
      • 4. Gambling by Computer
      • 5. Anthropology
      • 6. Mutual Regulation
  • Chapter 6 • When the Model Fails
    • The Fundamental Regulator Paradox
    • Noise
    • Noise in Communication Systems
    • Noise in Models
    • Fudging the Model
    • Discarding the Worn-out Model
    • The Road Ahead
    • QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
      • 1. Dog Training
      • 2. Contests
      • 3. Social Psychology and Political Science
      • 4. Time Versus Information
      • 5. On War
      • 6. The Sporting Life
      • 7. Psychology
      • 8. Introspective Psychology
      • 9. Insurance
  • Chapter 7 • Making Regulation Mysterious
    • The Impression of Intelligence
    • The Myth of Superiority
    • Searching for Nonexistent Set Points
    • Other Set Point Fallacies
    • The Quest for Perfection
    • QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
      • 1. Intelligent Machines
      • 2. Anthropology
      • 3. Optimization
      • 4. Economics
  • Chapter 8 • Overly Simple Views of Regulation
    • Plait Fallacies
    • The One-to-One Fallacies
    • The Kool-Aid Fallacy and the Aspirin Illusion
    • The False-Alarm Fallacy
    • Flareback
    • Taking Complexity by the Horns
    • QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
      • 1. Population Policy
      • 2. Sociology
      • 3. Social Welfare
      • 4. Good Luck
      • 5. Drug Addiction
      • 6. Sociobiology or Biosociology?
      • 7. Disasters
      • 8. Plumbing
      • 9. Evolution
  • Chapter 9 • Blindness and Reversed Vision
    • Hidden Reserves
    • The Environment as Reference Point
    • The Homunculus Fallacies
    • Denying the Existence of Regulation
    • QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
      • 1. Microbiology
      • 2. The. Stock Market
      • 3. Banking
      • 4. Cartels
      • 5. Sociology
      • 6. Space Travel
      • 7. Political Economy
      • 8. Psychological Geology
      • 9. Software Testing
  • Epilogue
    • QUESTION FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
  • Suggestions for Further Reading
  • Bibliography
  • Other Weinberg Books
    • Books for Consultants (and others)
    • The Quality Software Series
    • The Systems Thinking Series
    • Technology/Psychology
    • Novels: technology lessons framed in fiction.
    • Book Bundles
  • About the Cover
  • Appendix: Some Useful Mathematical Notation Explained

Bundles that include this book

General Systems Thinking
Passive Regulation
Active Regulation
Rethinking Systems Analysis and Design
The Death Lottery
5 Books
$49.95
Regular Price
$19.99
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About the Authors

Gerald M. Weinberg
Gerald M. Weinberg

Dani and Jerry Weinberg live in New Mexico with their German Shepherd Dogs. They are internationally respected for their innovative thinking on both human and technical issues.

Dani has a PhD in anthropology and was a university professor and an organizational consultant before retiring to become a full-time dog trainer. She brings her knowledge about learning and communication systems to her work with both dogs and people, helping people enhance all their human and animal relationships. Dani is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, and an evaluator for the Warm Hearts Network at Animal Humane New Mexico. Both Dani and Jerry are Field Instructors for Paws With a Cause, a national organization that trains and places assistance dogs.

Jerry (Gerald M.) Weinberg focuses on ways to help people improve their effectiveness. A highly influential author, trainer, and consultant, he draws on experiences gained in all three roles, as well as from a long technical career as a software developer and researcher. Jerry is author, coauthor, or editor of more than 60 books on topics ranging from computer systems and programming to education, thinking, and problem solving—and most recently, on writing, itself, and fiction. <www.geraldmweinberg.com>

hardpretzel@earthlink.net
Daniela Weinberg

Dani and Jerry Weinberg live in New Mexico with their German Shepherd Dogs. They are internationally respected for their innovative thinking on both human and technical issues.

Dani has a PhD in anthropology and was a university professor and an organizational consultant before retiring to become a full-time dog trainer. She brings her knowledge about learning and communication systems to her work with both dogs and people, helping people enhance all their human and animal relationships. Dani is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, and an evaluator for the Warm Hearts Network at Animal Humane New Mexico. Both Dani and Jerry are Field Instructors for Paws With a Cause, a national organization that trains and places assistance dogs.

Jerry (Gerald M.) Weinberg focuses on ways to help people improve their effectiveness. A highly influential author, trainer, and consultant, he draws on experiences gained in all three roles, as well as from a long technical career as a software developer and researcher. Jerry is author, coauthor, or editor of more than 60 books on topics ranging from computer systems and programming to education, thinking, and problem solving—and most recently, on writing, itself, and fiction. <www.geraldmweinberg.com>

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