30 December 2014

Systems Engineering: Information Theory (Just the Quotes)

"[…] information theory is characterised essentially by its dealing always with a set of possibilities; both its primary data and its final statements are almost always about the set as such, and not about some individual element in the set." (W Ross Ashby, "An Introduction to Cybernetics", 1956)

"The general notion in communication theory is that of information. In many cases, the flow of information corresponds to a flow of energy, e. g. if light waves emitted by some objects reach the eye or a photoelectric cell, elicit some reaction of the organism or some machinery, and thus convey information." (Ludwig von Bertalanffy, "General System Theory", 1968) 

"The 'flow of information' through human communication channels is enormous. So far no theory exists, to our knowledge, which attributes any sort of unambiguous measure to this 'flow'." (Anatol Rapoport, "Modern Systems Research for the Behavioral Scientist", 1969)

"Probability plays a central role in many fields, from quantum mechanics to information theory, and even older fields use probability now that the presence of 'noise' is officially admitted. The newer aspects of many fields start with the admission of uncertainty." (Richard Hamming, "Methods of Mathematics Applied to Calculus, Probability, and Statistics", 1985)

"The field of 'information theory' began by using the old hardware paradigm of transportation of data from point to point." (Marshall McLuhan & Eric McLuhan, Laws of Media: The New Science, 1988)

"Without an understanding of causality there can be no theory of communication. What passes as information theory today is not communication at all, but merely transportation." (Marshall McLuhan & Eric McLuhan, "Laws of Media: The New Science", 1988)

"If quantum communication and quantum computation are to flourish, a new information theory will have to be developed." (Hans Christian von Baeyer, "Information, The New Language of Science", 2003)

"In fact, an information theory that leaves out the issue of noise turns out to have no content." (Hans Christian von Baeyer, "Information, The New Language of Science", 2003)

"In an information economy, entrepreneurs master the science of information in order to overcome the laws of the purely physical sciences. They can succeed because of the surprising power of the laws of information, which are conducive to human creativity. The central concept of information theory is a measure of freedom of choice. The principle of matter, on the other hand, is not liberty but limitation - it has weight and occupies space." (George Gilder, "Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is Revolutionizing our World", 2013)

"Information theory leads to the quantification of the information content of the source, as denoted by entropy, the characterization of the information-bearing capacity of the communication channel, as related to its noise characteristics, and consequently the establishment of the relationship between the information content of the source and the capacity of the channel. In short, information theory provides a quantitative measure of the information contained in message signals and help determine the capacity of a communication system to transfer this information from source to sink over a noisy channel in a reliable fashion." (Ali Grami, "Information Theory", 2016)

Systems Management: Systems Thinking (Just the Quotes)

"A systems approach begins when first you see the world through the eyes of another." (C West Churchman, "The Systems Approach", 1968) 

"The systems approach to problems focuses on systems taken as a whole, not on their parts taken separately. Such an approach is concerned with total - system performance even when a change in only one or a few of its parts is contemplated because there are some properties of systems that can only be treated adequately from a holistic point of view. These properties derive from the relationship between parts of systems: how the parts interact and fit together." (Russell L Ackoff, "Towards a System of Systems Concepts", 1971) 

“The notion of ‘system’ has gained central importance in contemporary science, society and life. In many fields of endeavor, the necessity of a ‘systems approach’ or ‘systems thinking’ is emphasized, new professions called ‘systems engineering’, ‘systems analysis’ and the like have come into being, and there can be little doubt that this this concept marks a genuine, necessary, and consequential development in science and world-view.” (Ervin László, “Introduction to Systems Philosophy: Toward a New Paradigm of Contemporary Thought”, 1972)

"A company is a multidimensional system capable of growth, expansion, and self-regulation. It is, therefore, not a thing but a set of interacting forces. Any theory of organization must be capable of reflecting a company's many facets, its dynamism, and its basic orderliness. When company organization is reviewed, or when reorganizing a company, it must be looked upon as a whole, as a total system." (Albert Low, "Zen and Creative Management", 1976)

"There is a strong current in contemporary culture advocating ‘holistic’ views as some sort of cure-all […] Reductionism implies attention to a lower level while holistic implies attention to higher level. These are intertwined in any satisfactory description: and each entails some loss relative to our cognitive preferences, as well as some gain [...] there is no whole system without an interconnection of its parts and there is no whole system without an environment." (Francisco Varela, "On being autonomous: The lessons of natural history for systems theory", 1977)

"Systems thinking is a special form of holistic thinking - dealing with wholes rather than parts. One way of thinking about this is in terms of a hierarchy of levels of biological organization and of the different 'emergent' properties that are evident in say, the whole plant (e.g. wilting) that are not evident at the level of the cell (loss of turgor). It is also possible to bring different perspectives to bear on these different levels of organization. Holistic thinking starts by looking at the nature and behaviour of the whole system that those participating have agreed to be worthy of study. This involves: (i) taking multiple partial views of 'reality' […] (ii) placing conceptual boundaries around the whole, or system of interest and (iii) devising ways of representing systems of interest." (C J Pearson and R L Ison, "Agronomy of Grassland Systems", 1987) 

"Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing the 'structures' that underlie complex situations, and for discerning high from low leverage change. That is, by seeing wholes we learn how to foster health. To do so, systems thinking offers a language that begins by restructuring how we think." (Peter Senge, "The Fifth Discipline", 1990)

"Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static 'snapshots'. It is a set of general principles- distilled over the course of the twentieth century, spanning fields as diverse as the physical and social sciences, engineering, and management. [...] During the last thirty years, these tools have been applied to understand a wide range of corporate, urban, regional, economic, political, ecological, and even psychological systems. And systems thinking is a sensibility for the subtle interconnectedness that gives living systems their unique character." (Peter Senge, "The Fifth Discipline", 1990)

"Systems thinking is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns rather than static snapshots. It is a set of general principles spanning fields as diverse as physical and social sciences, engineering and management." (Peter Senge, "The Fifth Discipline", 1990)

"Systems philosophy brings forth a reorganization of ways of thinking. It creates a new worldview, a new paradigm of perception and explanation, which is manifested in integration, holistic thinking, purpose-seeking, mutual causality, and process-focused inquiry.” (Béla H. Bánáthy, "Systems Design of Education”, 1991)

"The new paradigm may be called a holistic world view, seeing the world as an integrated whole rather than a dissociated collection of parts. It may also be called an ecological view, if the term 'ecological' is used in a much broader and deeper sense than usual. Deep ecological awareness recognizes the fundamental interdependence of all phenomena and the fact that, as individuals and societies we are all embedded in (and ultimately dependent on) the cyclical process of nature." (Fritjof Capra & Gunter A Pauli, "Steering business toward sustainability", 1995)

"In the new systems thinking, the metaphor of knowledge as a building is being replaced by that of the network. As we perceive reality as a network of relationships, our descriptions, too, form an interconnected network of concepts and models in which there are no foundations. For most scientists such a view of knowledge as a network with no firm foundations is extremely unsettling, and today it is by no means generally accepted. But as the network approach expands throughout the scientific community, the idea of knowledge as a network will undoubtedly find increasing acceptance." (Fritjof Capra," The Web of Life: a new scientific understanding of living systems", 1996)

"It [system dynamics] focuses on building system dynamics models with teams in order to enhance team learning, to foster consensus and to create commitment with a resulting decision […] System dynamics can be helpful to elicit and integrate mental models into a more holistic view of the problem and to explore the dynamics of this holistic view […] It must be understood that the ultimate goal of the intervention is not to build a system dynamics model. The system dynamics model is a means to achieve other ends […] putting people in a position to learn about a messy problem … create a shared social reality […] a shared understanding of the problem and potential solutions … to foster consensus within the team [..]" (Jac A M Vennix, "Group Model Building: Facilitating Team Learning Using System Dynamics", 1996)

"Understanding ecological interdependence means understanding relationships. It requires the shifts of perception that are characteristic of systems thinking - from the parts to the whole, from objects to relationships, from contents to patterns. […] Nourishing the community means nourishing those relationships." (Fritjof Capra, "The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems", 1996)

"[...] information feedback about the real world not only alters our decisions within the context of existing frames and decision rules but also feeds back to alter our mental models. As our mental models change we change the structure of our systems, creating different decision rules and new strategies. The same information, processed and interpreted by a different decision rule, now yields a different decision. Altering the structure of our systems then alters their patterns of behavior. The development of systems thinking is a double-loop learning process in which we replace a reductionist, narrow, short-run, static view of the world with a holistic, broad, long-term, dynamic view and then redesign our policies and institutions accordingly." (John D Sterman, "Business dynamics: Systems thinking and modeling for a complex world", 2000)

"Systems thinking is based on the theory that a system is, in essence, circular. Using a systems approach in your strategic management, therefore, provides a circular implementing structure that can evolve, with continuously improving, self-checking, and learning capabilities [...]" (Stephen G Haines, "The Systems Thinking Approach to Strategic Planning and Management", 2000)

"The systems approach, on the other hand, provides an expanded structural design of organizations as living systems that more accurately reflects reality." (Stephen G Haines, "The Systems Thinking Approach to Strategic Planning and Management", 2000)

"This is what systems thinking is all about: the idea of building an organization in which each piece, and partial solution of the organization has the fit, alignment, and integrity with your overall organization as a system, and its outcome of serving the customer." (Stephen G Haines, "The Systems Thinking Approach to Strategic Planning and Management", 2000)

"True systems thinking, on the other hand, studies each problem as it relates to the organization’s objectives and interaction with its entire environment, looking at it as a whole within its universe. Taking your organization from a partial systems to a true systems state requires effective strategic management and backward thinking." (Stephen G Haines, "The Systems Thinking Approach to Strategic Planning and Management", 2000)

"Systems thinking is a mental discipline and framework for seeing patterns and interrelationships. It is important to see organizational systems as a whole because of their complexity. Complexity can overwhelm managers, undermining confidence. When leaders can see the structures that underlie complex situations, they can facilitate improvement. But doing that requires a focus on the big picture." (Richard L Daft, "The Leadership Experience", 2008)

"Systems thinking means the ability to see the synergy of the whole rather than just the separate elements of a system and to learn to reinforce or change whole system patterns. Many people have been trained to solve problems by breaking a complex system, such as an organization, into discrete parts and working to make each part perform as well as possible. However, the success of each piece does not add up to the success of the whole. to the success of the whole. In fact, sometimes changing one part to make it better actually makes the whole system function less effectively." (Richard L Daft, "The Leadership Experience", 2002)

"Deep change in mental models, or double-loop learning, arises when evidence not only alters our decisions within the context of existing frames, but also feeds back to alter our mental models. As our mental models change, we change the structure of our systems, creating different decision rules and new strategies. The same information, interpreted by a different model, now yields a different decision. Systems thinking is an iterative learning process in which we replace a reductionist, narrow, short-run, static view of the world with a holistic, broad, long-term, dynamic view, reinventing our policies and institutions accordingly." (John D Sterman, "Learning in and about complex systems", Systems Thinking Vol. 3 2003)

"There exists an alternative to reductionism for studying systems. This alternative is known as holism. Holism considers systems to be more than the sum of their parts. It is of course interested in the parts and particularly the networks of relationships between the parts, but primarily in terms of how they give rise to and sustain in existence the new entity that is the whole whether it be a river system, an automobile, a philosophical system or a quality system." (Michael C. Jackson, "Systems Thinking: Creative Holism for Manager", 2003) 

"In ecology, we are often interested in exploring the behavior of whole systems of species or ecosystem composed of individual components which interact through biological processes. We are interested not simply in the dynamics of each species or component in isolation, but the dynamics of each species or component in the context of all the others and how those coupled dynamics account for properties of the system as a whole, such as its persistence. This is what people seem to mean when they say that ecology is ‘holistic’, an otherwise rather vague term." (John Pastor, "Mathematical Ecology of Populations and Ecosystems", 2008)

"Systems thinking focuses on optimizing for the whole, looking at the overall flow of work, identifying what the largest bottleneck is today, and eliminating it." (Matthew Skelton & Manuel Pais, "Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow", 2019)

More on "Systems Thinking" at the-web-of-knowledge.blogspot.com.

26 December 2014

Systems Engineering: Emergence (Just the Quotes)

"[Hierarchy is] the principle according to which entities meaningfully treated as wholes are built up of smaller entities which are themselves wholes […] and so on. In hierarchy, emergent properties denote the levels." (Peter Checkland, "Systems Thinking, Systems Practice", 1981)

"[…] self-organization is the spontaneous emergence of new structures and new forms of behavior in open systems far from equilibrium, characterized by internal feedback loops and described mathematically by nonlinear equations." (Fritjof Capra, "The web of life: a new scientific understanding of living systems", 1996)

"It may not be obvious at first, but the study of emergence and model-building go hand in hand. The essence of model-building is shearing away detail to get at essential elements. A model, by concentrating on selected aspects of the world, makes possible the prediction and planning that reveal new possibilities. That is exactly the problem we face in trying to develop a scientific understanding of emergence." (John H Holland, "Emergence" , Philosophica 59, 1997)

"When the behavior of the system depends on the behavior of the parts, the complexity of the whole must involve a description of the parts, thus it is large. The smaller the parts that must be described to describe the behavior of the whole, the larger the complexity of the entire system. […] A complex system is a system formed out of many components whose behavior is emergent, that is, the behavior of the system cannot be simply inferred from the behavior of its components." (Yaneer Bar-Yamm, "Dynamics of Complexity", 1997)

"Emergent self-organization in multi-agent systems appears to contradict the second law of thermodynamics. This paradox has been explained in terms of a coupling between the macro level that hosts self-organization (and an apparent reduction in entropy), and the micro level (where random processes greatly increase entropy). Metaphorically, the micro level serves as an entropy 'sink', permitting overall system entropy to increase while sequestering this increase from the interactions where self-organization is desired." (H Van Dyke Parunak & Sven Brueckner, "Entropy and Self-Organization in Multi-Agent Systems", Proceedings of the International Conference on Autonomous Agents, 2001)

"The phenomenon of emergence takes place at critical points of instability that arise from fluctuations in the environment, amplified by feedback loops." (Fritjof Capra, "The Hidden Connections", 2002)

"This spontaneous emergence of order at critical points of instability is one of the most important concepts of the new understanding of life. It is technically known as self-organization and is often referred to simply as ‘emergence’. It has been recognized as the dynamic origin of development, learning and evolution. In other words, creativity-the generation of new forms-is a key property of all living systems. And since emergence is an integral part of the dynamics of open systems, we reach the important conclusion that open systems develop and evolve. Life constantly reaches out into novelty." (Fritjof  Capra, "The Hidden Connections", 2002)

"Emergence is not really mysterious, although it may be complex. Emergence is brought about by the interactions between the parts of a system. The galloping horse illusion depends upon the persistence of the human retina/brain combination, for instance. Elemental gases bond in combination by sharing outer electrons, thereby altering the appearance and behavior of the combination. In every case of emergence, the source is interaction between the parts - sometimes, as with the brain, very many parts - so that the phenomenon defies simple explanation." (Derek Hitchins, "Advanced Systems Thinking, Engineering and Management", 2003)

"Emergence is the phenomenon of properties, capabilities and behaviours evident in the whole system that are not exclusively ascribable to any of its parts." (Derek Hitchins, "Advanced Systems Thinking, Engineering and Management", 2003)

"Another typical feature of theories of emergence is the layered view of nature. On this view, all things in nature belong to a certain level of existence, each according to its characteristic properties. These levels of existence constitute a hierarchy of increasing complexity that also corresponds to their order of appearance in the course of evolution." (Markus Eronen, "Emergence in the Philosophy of Mind", 2004)

"The basic concept of complexity theory is that systems show patterns of organization without organizer (autonomous or self-organization). Simple local interactions of many mutually interacting parts can lead to emergence of complex global structures. […] Complexity originates from the tendency of large dynamical systems to organize themselves into a critical state, with avalanches or 'punctuations' of all sizes. In the critical state, events which would otherwise be uncoupled became correlated." (Jochen Fromm, "The Emergence of Complexity", 2004)

"Complexity arises when emergent system-level phenomena are characterized by patterns in time or a given state space that have neither too much nor too little form. Neither in stasis nor changing randomly, these emergent phenomena are interesting, due to the coupling of individual and global behaviours as well as the difficulties they pose for prediction. Broad patterns of system behaviour may be predictable, but the system's specific path through a space of possible states is not." (Steve Maguire et al, "Complexity Science and Organization Studies", 2006)

"The beauty of nature insists on taking its time. Everything is prepared. Nothing is rushed. The rhythm of emergence is a gradual, slow beat; always inching its way forward, change remains faithful to itself until the new unfolds in the full confidence of true arrival. Because nothing is abrupt, the beginning of spring nearly always catches us unawares. It is there before we see it; and then we can look nowhere without seeing it. (John O'Donohue, "To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings", 2008)

"Although the potential for chaos resides in every system, chaos, when it emerges, frequently stays within the bounds of its attractor(s): No point or pattern of points is ever repeated, but some form of patterning emerges, rather than randomness. Life scientists in different areas have noticed that life seems able to balance order and chaos at a place of balance known as the edge of chaos. Observations from both nature and artificial life suggest that the edge of chaos favors evolutionary adaptation." (Terry Cooke-Davies et al, "Exploring the Complexity of Projects", 2009)

"If universality is one of the observed characteristics of complex dynamical systems in many fields of study, a second characteristic that flows from the study of these systems is that of emergence. As self-organizing systems go about their daily business, they are constantly exchanging matter and energy with their environment, and this allows them to remain in a state that is far from equilibrium. That allows spontaneous behavior to give rise to new patterns." (Terry Cooke-Davies et al, "Exploring the Complexity of Projects", 2009)

"The notion of emergence is used in a variety of disciplines such as evolutionary biology, the philosophy of mind and sociology, as well as in computational and complexity theory. It is associated with non-reductive naturalism, which claims that a hierarchy of levels of reality exist. While the emergent level is constituted by the underlying level, it is nevertheless autonomous from the constituting level. As a naturalistic theory, it excludes non-natural explanations such as vitalistic forces or entelechy. As non-reductive naturalism, emergence theory claims that higher-level entities cannot be explained by lower-level entities." (Martin Neumann, "An Epistemological Gap in Simulation Technologies and the Science of Society", 2011)

"System theorists know that it's easy to couple simple-to-understand systems into a ‘super system’ that's capable of displaying behavioral modes that cannot be seen in any of its constituent parts. This is the process called ‘emergence’." (John L Casti, [interview with Austin Allen], 2012)

"Every system that has existed emerged somehow, from somewhere, at some point. Complexity science emphasizes the study of how systems evolve through their disorganized parts into an organized whole." (Lawrence K Samuels, "Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action", 2013)

"Things evolve to evolve. Evolutionary processes are the linchpin of change. These processes of discovery represent a complexity of simple systems that flux in perpetual tension as they teeter at the edge of chaos. This whirlwind of emergence is responsible for the spontaneous order and higher, organized complexity so noticeable in biological evolution - one–celled critters beefing up to become multicellular organisms." (Lawrence K Samuels, "Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action", 2013)

"This spontaneous emergence of order at critical points of instability, which is often referred to simply as 'emergence', is one of the hallmarks of life. It has been recognized as the dynamic origin of development, learning, and evolution. In other words, creativity-the generation of new forms-is a key property of all living systems." (Fritjof Capra, "The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision", 2014)

More quotes on "Emergence" at the-web-of-knowledge.blogspot.com.

25 December 2014

Performance Management: Mastery (Just the Quotes)

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." (Aristotle)

"With regard to excellence, it is not enough to know, but we must try to have and use it." (Aristotel, "Nochomachean Ethics", cca. 340 BC)

"It takes a long time to bring excellence to maturity." (Publilius Syrus, "Moral Sayings", cca. 1st century BC)

"One has attained to mastery when one neither goes wrong nor hesitates in the performance." (Friedrich Nietzsche, "Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality", 1881)

"Order and simplification are the first steps toward the mastery of a subject - the actual enemy is the unknown." (Thomas Mann, "The Magic Mountain", 1924)

"To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often." (Winston Churchill, [Speech, House of Commons] 1925)

"Creating a new theory is not like destroying an old barn and erecting a skyscraper in its place. It is rather like climbing a mountain, gaining new and wider views, discovering unexpected connections between our starting point and its rich environment. But the point from which we started out still exists and can be seen, although it appears smaller and forms a tiny part of our broad view gained by the mastery of the obstacles on our adventurous way up." (Albert Einstein & Leopold Infeld, "The Evolution of Physics", 1938)

"Civilization is that mode of conduct which points out to man the path of duty. Performance of duty and observance of morality are convertible terms. To observe morality is to attain mastery over our mind and our passions. So doing, we know ourselves." (Mahatma Gandhi, "Hindu Dharma", 1950)

"Leaders value learning and mastery, and so do people who work for leaders. Leaders make it clear that there is no failure, only mistakes that give us feedback and tell us what to do next." (Warren G Bennis, Training and Development Journal, 1984)

"No talent in management is worth more than the ability to master facts - not just any facts, but the ones that provide the best answers. Mastery thus involves knowing what facts you want; where to dig for them; how to dig; how to process the mined ore; and how to use the precious nuggets of information that are finally in your hand. The process can be laborious - which is why it is so often botched." (Robert Heller, "The Supermanagers", 1984)

"The source of good management is found in the imagination of leaders, persons who form new visions and manifest them with a high degree of craft. The blending of vision and craft communicates the purpose. In the arts, people who do that well are masters. In business, they are leaders." (Henry M. Boettinger, Harvard Business Review on Human Relations, 1986)

"People with a high level of personal mastery are able to consistently realize the results that matter most deeply to them-in effect, they approach their life as an artist would approach a work of art. The do that by becoming committed to their own lifelong learning." (Peter M Senge, "The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization", 1990)

"Personal mastery is the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively." (Peter M Senge, "The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization", 1990)

"The discipline of personal mastery [...] starts with clarifying the things that really matter to us (and) living our lives in the service of our highest aspirations." (Peter M Senge, "The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization", 1990)

"Mastery means responsibility, ability to respond in real time to the need of the moment." (Stephen Nachmanovitch, "Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art", 1991

"At the heart of it, mastery is practice. Mastery is staying on the path." (George Leonard, "Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment", 1992)

"Find the heart of it. Make the complex simple, and you can achieve mastery." (Dan Millman, "Living on Purpose: Straight Answers to Life's Tough Questions", 2000)

"Change always implies abandonment. What you're abandoning is an old way of doing things. You're abandoning it because it's old, because time has made it no longer the best way. But it is also (again because it's old) a familiar way. And more important, it is an approach that people have mastered. So the change you are urging upon your people requires them to abandon their mastery of the familiar, and to become novices once again, to become rank beginners at something with self-definitional importance." (Tom DeMarco, "Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency", 2001)

"Mastery is an elusive concept. You never know when you achieve it absolutely and it may not help you to feel you've attained it. We can recognize it more readily in others than we can in ourselves. We have to discover our own definition of it." (Twyla Tharp, 'The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life", 2003)

"Leaders should be aware of how their mental models affect their thinking and may cause 'blind spots' that limit understanding. Becoming aware of assumptions is a first step toward shifting one’s mental model and being able to see the world in new and different ways. Four key issues important to expanding and developing a leader’s mind are independent thinking, open-mindedness, systems thinking, and personal mastery." (Richard L Daft, "The Leadership Experience" 4th Ed., 2008)

"Mastery is not a function of genius or talent. It is a function of time and intense focus applied to a particular field of knowledge." (Robert Greene, "Mastery" 2012)

"Models are formal structures represented in mathematics and diagrams that help us to understand the world. Mastery of models improves your ability to reason, explain, design, communicate, act, predict, and explore." (Scott E Page, "The Model Thinker", 2018)

"Art calls for complete mastery of techniques, developed by reflection within the soul." (Bruce Lee)

"In the pursuit of excellence, there is no finish line." (Robert H Farman)

"Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person." (Albert Einstein)

"The performance of public duty is not the whole of what makes a good life; there is also the pursuit of private excellence." (Bertrand Russell)

Systems Engineering: Sensitivity (Just the Quotes)

"An exceedingly small cause which escapes our notice determines a considerable effect that we cannot fail to see, and then we say the effect is due to chance. If we knew exactly the laws of nature and the situation of the universe at the initial moment, we could predict exactly the situation of that same universe at a succeeding moment. But even if it were the case that the natural laws had no longer any secret for us, we could still only know the initial situation 'approximately'. If that enabled us to predict the succeeding situation with 'the same approximation', that is all we require, and we should say that the phenomenon had been predicted, that it is governed by laws. But it is not always so; it may happen that small differences in the initial conditions produce very great ones in the final phenomena. A small error in the former will produce an enormous error in the latter. Prediction becomes impossible, and we have the fortuitous phenomenon. (Jules H Poincaré, "Science and Method", 1908)

"The predictions of physical theories for the most part concern situations where initial conditions can be precisely specified. If such initial conditions are not found in nature, they can be arranged." (Anatol Rapoport, "The Search for Simplicity", 1956)

"[...] the influence of a single butterfly is not only a fine detail - it is confined to a small volume. Some of the numerical methods which seem to be well adapted for examining the intensification of errors are not suitable for studying the dispersion of errors from restricted to unrestricted regions. One hypothesis, unconfirmed, is that the influence of a butterfly's wings will spread in turbulent air, but not in calm air." (Edward N Lorenz, [talk] 1972)

"Everywhere […] in the Universe, we discern that closed physical systems evolve in the same sense from ordered states towards a state of complete disorder called thermal equilibrium. This cannot be a consequence of known laws of change, since […] these laws are time symmetric- they permit […] time-reverse. […] The initial conditions play a decisive role in endowing the world with its sense of temporal direction. […] some prescription for initial conditions is crucial if we are to understand […]" (John D Barrow, "Theories of Everything: The Quest for Ultimate Explanation", 1991)

"In nonlinear systems - and the economy is most certainly nonlinear - chaos theory tells you that the slightest uncertainty in your knowledge of the initial conditions will often grow inexorably. After a while, your predictions are nonsense." (M Mitchell Waldrop, "Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos", 1992)

"In the everyday world of human affairs, no one is surprised to learn that a tiny event over here can have an enormous effect over there. For want of a nail, the shoe was lost, et cetera. But when the physicists started paying serious attention to nonlinear systems in their own domain, they began to realize just how profound a principle this really was. […] Tiny perturbations won't always remain tiny. Under the right circumstances, the slightest uncertainty can grow until the system's future becomes utterly unpredictable - or, in a word, chaotic." (M Mitchell Waldrop, "Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos", 1992)

"Symmetry breaking in psychology is governed by the nonlinear causality of complex systems (the 'butterfly effect'), which roughly means that a small cause can have a big effect. Tiny details of initial individual perspectives, but also cognitive prejudices, may 'enslave' the other modes and lead to one dominant view." (Klaus Mainzer, "Thinking in Complexity", 1994)

"How surprising it is that the laws of nature and the initial conditions of the universe should allow for the existence of beings who could observe it. Life as we know it would be impossible if any one of several physical quantities had slightly different values." (Steven Weinberg, "Life in the Quantum Universe", Scientific American, 1995)

"Unlike classical mathematics, net math exhibits nonintuitive traits. In general, small variations in input in an interacting swarm can produce huge variations in output. Effects are disproportional to causes - the butterfly effect." (Kevin Kelly, "Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World", 1995)

"Swarm systems generate novelty for three reasons: (1) They are 'sensitive to initial conditions' - a scientific shorthand for saying that the size of the effect is not proportional to the size of the cause - so they can make a surprising mountain out of a molehill. (2) They hide countless novel possibilities in the exponential combinations of many interlinked individuals. (3) They don’t reckon individuals, so therefore individual variation and imperfection can be allowed. In swarm systems with heritability, individual variation and imperfection will lead to perpetual novelty, or what we call evolution." (Kevin Kelly, "Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World", 1995)

"Chaos theory reconciles our intuitive sense of free will with the deterministic laws of nature. However, it has an even deeper philosophical ramification. Not only do we have freedom to control our actions, but also the sensitivity to initial conditions implies that even our smallest act can drastically alter the course of history, for better or for worse. Like the butterfly flapping its wings, the results of our behavior are amplified with each day that passes, eventually producing a completely different world than would have existed in our absence!" (Julien C Sprott, "Strange Attractors: Creating Patterns in Chaos", 2000)

"A sudden change in the evolutive dynamics of a system (a ‘surprise’) can emerge, apparently violating a symmetrical law that was formulated by making a reduction on some (or many) finite sequences of numerical data. This is the crucial point. As we have said on a number of occasions, complexity emerges as a breakdown of symmetry (a system that, by evolving with continuity, suddenly passes from one attractor to another) in laws which, expressed in mathematical form, are symmetrical. Nonetheless, this breakdown happens. It is the surprise, the paradox, a sort of butterfly effect that can highlight small differences between numbers that are very close to one another in the continuum of real numbers; differences that may evade the experimental interpretation of data, but that may increasingly amplify in the system’s dynamics." (Cristoforo S Bertuglia & Franco Vaio, "Nonlinearity, Chaos, and Complexity: The Dynamics of Natural and Social Systems", 2003)

"[…] we would like to observe that the butterfly effect lies at the root of many events which we call random. The final result of throwing a dice depends on the position of the hand throwing it, on the air resistance, on the base that the die falls on, and on many other factors. The result appears random because we are not able to take into account all of these factors with sufficient accuracy. Even the tiniest bump on the table and the most imperceptible move of the wrist affect the position in which the die finally lands. It would be reasonable to assume that chaos lies at the root of all random phenomena." (Iwo Białynicki-Birula & Iwona Białynicka-Birula, "Modeling Reality: How Computers Mirror Life", 2004)

"Yet, with the discovery of the butterfly effect in chaos theory, it is now understood that there is some emergent order over time even in weather occurrence, so that weather prediction is not next to being impossible as was once thought, although the science of meteorology is far from the state of perfection." (Peter Baofu, "The Future of Complexity: Conceiving a Better Way to Understand Order and Chaos", 2007)

"The butterfly effect demonstrates that complex dynamical systems are highly responsive and interconnected webs of feedback loops. It reminds us that we live in a highly interconnected world. Thus our actions within an organization can lead to a range of unpredicted responses and unexpected outcomes. This seriously calls into doubt the wisdom of believing that a major organizational change intervention will necessarily achieve its pre-planned and highly desired outcomes. Small changes in the social, technological, political, ecological or economic conditions can have major implications over time for organizations, communities, societies and even nations." (Elizabeth McMillan, "Complexity, Management and the Dynamics of Change: Challenges for practice", 2008)

"The 'butterfly effect' is at most a hypothesis, and it was certainly not Lorenz’s intention to change it to a metaphor for the importance of small event. […] Dynamical systems that exhibit sensitive dependence on initial conditions produce remarkably different solutions for two initial values that are close to each other. Sensitive dependence on initial conditions is one of the properties to exhibit chaotic behavior. In addition, at least one further implicit assumption is that the system is bounded in some finite region, i.e., the system cannot blow up. When one uses expanding dynamics, a way of pull-back of too much expanded phase volume to some finite domain is necessary to get chaos." (Péter Érdi, "Complexity Explained", 2008)

"One of the remarkable features of these complex systems created by replicator dynamics is that infinitesimal differences in starting positions create vastly different patterns. This sensitive dependence on initial conditions is often called the butterfly - effect aspect of complex systems - small changes in the replicator dynamics or in the starting point can lead to enormous differences in outcome, and they change one’s view of how robust the current reality is. If it is complex, one small change could have led to a reality that is quite different." (David Colander & Roland Kupers, "Complexity and the art of public policy : solving society’s problems from the bottom up", 2014)

More quotes on the "Sensitivity of initial conditions" (aka "The Butterfly Effect") at the-web-of-knowledge.blogspot.com.

Performance Management: Teams [Sports] (Just the Quotes)

"A team divided against itself can break down at any moment. The least bit of pressure or adversity will crack it apart." (Bill Parcells, "Finding a Way to Win: The Principles of Leadership, Teamwork, and Motivation", 1995)

"Bringing together disparate personalities to form a team is like a jigsaw puzzle. You have to ask yourself: what is the whole picture here? We want to make sure our players all fit together properly and complement each other, so that we don't have a big piece, a little piece, an oblong piece, and a round piece. If personalities work against each other, as a team you'll find yourselves spinning your wheels." (Pat Summitt, "Reach for the Summit", 1999)

"Never set a goal that involves number of wins - never. Set goals that revolve around playing together as a team. Doing so will put you in a position to win every game." (Mike Krzyzewski, "Leading with the Heart", 2000)

"In putting together your standards, remember that it is essential to involve your entire team. Standards are not rules issued by the boss; they are a collective identity. Remember, standards are the things that you do all the time and the things for which you hold one another accountable." (Mike Krzyzewski, "The Gold Standard: Building a World-Class Team", 2009)

"A leader may be the most knowledgeable person in the world, but if the players on his team cannot translate that knowledge into action, it means nothing."  (Mike Krzyzewski, "Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life", 2010)

"Encourage members of your team to take the initiative and act on their own." (Mike Krzyzewski, "Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life", 2010)

"Goals should be realistic, attainable, and shared among all members of the team." (Mike Krzyzewski, "Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life", 2010)

"If a team cannot perform with excellence at a moment's notice, they probably will fail in the long run." (Mike Krzyzewski, "Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life", 2010)

"In leadership, there are no words more important than trust. In any organization, trust must be developed among every member of the team if success is going to be achieved." (Mike Krzyzewski, "Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life", 2010)

"Leaders have to search for the heart on a team, because the person who has it can bring out the best in everybody else." (Mike Krzyzewski, "Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life", 2010)

"Mutual commitment helps overcome the fear of failure - especially when people are part of a team sharing and achieving goals. It also sets the stage for open dialogue and honest conversation." (Mike Krzyzewski, "Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life", 2010)

"People want to be on a team. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be in a situation where they feel that they are doing something for the greater good." (Mike Krzyzewski, "Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life", 2010)

"There are five fundamental qualities that make every team great: communication, trust, collective responsibility, caring and pride. I like to think of each as a separate finger on the fist. Any one individually is important. But all of them together are unbeatable." (Mike Krzyzewski, "Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life", 2010)

"When you first assemble a group, it's not a team right off the bat. It's only a collection of individuals." (Mike Krzyzewski, "Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life", 2010)

"You develop a team to achieve what one person cannot accomplish alone. All of us alone are weaker, by far, than if all of us are together." (Mike Krzyzewski, "Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life", 2010)

"In climbing, having confidence in your partners is no small concern. One climber's actions can affect the welfare of the entire team." (Jon Krakauer, "Into Thin Air: A personal account of the Everest disaster", 2011)

"Basketball is a great mystery. You can do everything right. You can have the perfect mix of talent and the best system of offense in the game. You can devise a foolproof defensive strategy and prepare your players for every possible eventuality. But if the players don't have a sense of oneness as a group, your efforts won't pay off. And the bond that unites a team can be so fragile, so elusive." (Phil Jackson, "Eleven Rings", 2015)

24 December 2014

Systems Engineering: Systems (Just the Quotes)

"Systems in many respects resemble machines. A machine is a little system, created to perform, as well as to connect together, in reality, those different movements and effects which the artist has occasion for.  A system is an imaginary machine invented to connect together in the fancy those different movements and effects which are already in reality performed." (Adam Smith, "The Wealth of Nations", 1776)

"A good method of discovery is to imagine certain members of a system removed and then see how what is left would behave: for example, where would we be if iron were absent from the world: this is an old example." (Georg C Lichtenberg, Notebook J, 1789-1793)

"A system is a whole which is composed of various parts. But it is not the same thing as an aggregate or heap. In an aggregate or heap, no essential relation exists between the units of which it is composed. In a heap of grain, or pile of stones, one may take away part without the other part being at all affected thereby. But in a system, each part has a fixed and necessary relation to the whole and to all the other parts. For this reason we may say that a building, or a peace of mechanisme, is a system. Each stone in the building, each wheel in the watch, plays a part, and is essential to the whole." (James E Creighton, "An Introductory Logic"‎, 1909)

"The concept of an independent system is a pure creation of the imagination. For no material system is or can ever be perfectly isolated from the rest of the world. Nevertheless it completes the mathematician’s ‘blank form of a universe’ without which his investigations are impossible. It enables him to introduce into his geometrical space, not only masses and configurations, but also physical structure and chemical composition." (Lawrence J Henderson, "The Order of Nature: An Essay", 1917)

"The complexity of a system is no guarantee of its accuracy." (John P Jordan, "Cost accounting; principles and practice", 1920)

"Given a situation, a system with a Leerstelle [a gap], whether a given completion (Lueckenfuellung) does justice to the structure, is the 'right' one, is often determined by the structure of the system, the situation. There are requirements, structurally determined; there are possible in pure cases unambiguous decisions as to which completion does justice to the situation, which does not, which violates the requirements and the situation." (Max Wertheimer, "Some Problems in the Theory of Ethics", Social Research Vol. 2 (3), 1935)

"A system is difficult to define, but it is easy to recognize some of its characteristics. A system possesses boundaries which segregate it from the rest of its field: it is cohesive in the sense that it resists encroachment from without […]" (Marvin G Cline, "Fundamentals of a theory of the self: some exploratory speculations‎", 1950)

"Now a system is said to be at equilibrium when it has no further tendency to change its properties." (Walter J Moore, "Physical chemistry", 1950)

"Every part of the system is so related to every other part that any change in one aspect results in dynamic changes in all other parts of the total system." (Arthur D Hall & Robert E Fagen, "Definition of System", General Systems Vol. 1, 1956)

"Any pattern of activity in a network, regarded as consistent by some observer, is a system, Certain groups of observers, who share a common body of knowledge, and subscribe to a particular discipline, like 'physics' or 'biology' (in terms of which they pose hypotheses about the network), will pick out substantially the same systems. On the other hand, observers belonging to different groups will not agree about the activity which is a system." (Gordon Pask, "The Natural History of Networks", 1960)

"Clearly, if the state of the system is coupled to parameters of an environment and the state of the environment is made to modify parameters of the system, a learning process will occur. Such an arrangement will be called a Finite Learning Machine, since it has a definite capacity. It is, of course, an active learning mechanism which trades with its surroundings. Indeed it is the limit case of a self-organizing system which will appear in the network if the currency supply is generalized." (Gordon Pask, "The Natural History of Networks", 1960)

"Every isolated determinate dynamic system, obeying unchanging laws, will ultimately develop some sort of organisms that are adapted to their environments." (W Ross Ashby, "Principles of the self-organizing system", 1962)

"Roughly, by a complex system I mean one made up of a large number of parts that interact in a nonsimple way. In such systems, the whole is more than the sum of the parts, not in an ultimate, metaphysical sense, but in the important pragmatic sense that, given the properties of the parts and the laws of their interaction, it is not a trivial matter to infer the properties of the whole." (Herbert Simon, "The Architecture of Complexity", Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society Vol. 106 (6), 1962)

"To say a system is 'self-organizing' leaves open two quite different meanings. There is a first meaning that is simple and unobjectionable. This refers to the system that starts with its parts separate (so that the behavior of each is independent of the others' states) and whose parts then act so that they change towards forming connections of some type. Such a system is 'self-organizing' in the sense that it changes from 'parts separated' to 'parts joined'. […] In general such systems can be more simply characterized as 'self-connecting', for the change from independence between the parts to conditionality can always be seen as some form of 'connection', even if it is as purely functional […]  'Organizing' […] may also mean 'changing from a bad organization to a good one' […] The system would be 'self-organizing' if a change were automatically made to the feedback, changing it from positive to negative; then the whole would have changed from a bad organization to a good." (W Ross Ashby, "Principles of the self-organizing system", 1962)

"Synergy is the only word in our language that means behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the separately observed behaviors of any of the system's separate parts or any subassembly of the system's parts." (R Buckminster Fuller, "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth", 1963)

"A system has order, flowing from point to point. If something dams that flow, order collapses. The untrained might miss that collapse until it was too late. That's why the highest function of ecology is the understanding of consequences." (Frank Herbert, "Dune", 1965)

"System theory is basically concerned with problems of relationships, of structure, and of interdependence rather than with the constant attributes of objects. In general approach it resembles field theory except that its dynamics deal with temporal as well as spatial patterns. Older formulations of system constructs dealt with the closed systems of the physical sciences, in which relatively self-contained structures could be treated successfully as if they were independent of external forces. But living systems, whether biological organisms or social organizations, are acutely dependent on their external environment and so must be conceived of as open systems." (Daniel Katz, "The Social Psychology of Organizations", 1966)

"To find out what happens to a system when you interfere with it you have to interfere with it (not just passively observe it)." (George E P Box, "Use and Abuse of Regression", 1966)

"That a system is open means, not simply that it engages in interchanges with the environment, but that this interchange is an essential factor underlying the system's viability, its reproductive ability or continuity, and its ability to change. [...] Openness is an essential factor underlying a system's viability, continuity, and its ability to change."  (Walter F Buckley, "Sociology and modern systems theory", 1967)

"You cannot sum up the behavior of the whole from the isolated parts, and you have to take into account the relations between the various subordinate systems which are super-ordinated to them in order to understand the behavior of the parts." (Ludwig von Bertalanffy, "General System Theory", 1968)

"[…] as a model of a complex system becomes more complete, it becomes less understandable. Alternatively, as a model grows more realistic, it also becomes just as difficult to understand as the real world processes it represents." (Jay M Dutton & William H Starbuck," Computer simulation models of human behavior: A history of an intellectual technology", IEEE Transactions on Systems, 1971)

"A system in one perspective is a subsystem in another. But the systems view always treats systems as integrated wholes of their subsidiary components and never as the mechanistic aggregate of parts in isolable causal relations." (Ervin László, "Introduction to Systems Philosophy", 1972)

"Technology can relieve the symptoms of a problem without affecting the underlying causes. Faith in technology as the ultimate solution to all problems can thus divert our attention from the most fundamental problem - the problem of growth in a finite system." (Donella A Meadows, "The Limits to Growth", 1972)

"[The] system may evolve through a whole succession of transitions leading to a hierarchy of more and more complex and organized states. Such transitions can arise in nonlinear systems that are maintained far from equilibrium: that is, beyond a certain critical threshold the steady-state regime become unstable and the system evolves into a new configuration." (Ilya Prigogine, Gregoire Micolis & Agnes Babloyantz, "Thermodynamics of Evolution", Physics Today 25 (11), 1972) 

"The system of nature, of which man is a part, tends to be self-balancing, self-adjusting, self-cleansing. Not so with technology." (Ernst F Schumacher, "Small is Beautiful", 1973)

"When a system is considered in two different states, the difference in volume or in any other property, between the two states, depends solely upon those states themselves and not upon the manner in which the system may pass from one state to the other." (Rudolf Arnheim, "Entropy and Art: An Essay on Disorder and Order", 1974) 

"A system may be specified in either of two ways. In the first, which we shall call a state description, sets of abstract inputs, outputs and states are given, together with the action of the inputs on the states and the assignments of outputs to states. In the second, which we shall call a coordinate description, certain input, output and state variables are given, together with a system of dynamical equations describing the relations among the variables as functions of time. Modern mathematical system theory is formulated in terms of state descriptions, whereas the classical formulation is typically a coordinate description, for example a system of differential equations." (E S Bainbridge, "The Fundamental Duality of System Theory", 1975)

"Synergy means behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the behavior of their parts taken separately." (R Buckminster Fuller, "Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking", 1975)

"If all of the elements in a large system are loosely coupled to one another, then any one element can adjust to and modify a local a local unique contingency without affecting the whole system. These local adaptations can be swift, relatively economical, and substantial." (Karl E Weick, "Educational organizations as loosely coupled systems", 1976)

"In a loosely coupled system there is more room available for self-determination by the actors. If it is argued that a sense of efficacy is crucial for human beings. when a sense of efficacy might be greater in a loosely coupled system with autonomous units than it would be in a tightly coupled system where discretion is limited." (Karl E Weick, "Educational organizations as loosely coupled systems", 1976)

"For any system the environment is always more complex than the system itself. No system can maintain itself by means of a point-for-point correlation with its environment, i.e., can summon enough 'requisite variety' to match its environment. So each one has to reduce environmental complexity - primarily by restricting the environment itself and perceiving it in a categorically preformed way. On the other hand, the difference of system and environment is a prerequisite for the reduction of complexity because reduction can be performed only within the system, both for the system itself and its environment." (Thomas Luckmann & Niklas Luhmann, "The Differentiation of Society", 1977)

"All nature is a continuum. The endless complexity of life is organized into patterns which repeat themselves at each level of system." (James G Miller, "Living Systems", 1978)

"An autopoietic system is organized (defined as a unity) as a network of processes of production (transformation and destruction) of components that produces the components that: (a) through their interactions and transformations continuously regenerate and realize the network of processes (relations) that produce them and, (b) constitute it (the machine) as a concrete unity in the space in which they exist by specifying the topological domain of its realization as such a network." (Francisco Varela, "Principles of Biological Autonomy", 1979)

"A system is an internally organised whole where elements are so intimately connected that they operate as one in relation to external conditions and other systems. An element may be defined as the minimal unit performing a definite function in the whole. Systems may be either simple or complex. A complex system is one whose elements may also be regarded as systems or subsystems." (Alexander Spirkin, "Dialectical Materialism", 1983)

"But structure is not enough to make a system. A system consists of something more than structure: it is a structure with certain properties. When a structure is understood from the standpoint of its properties, it is understood as a system." (Alexander Spirkin, "Dialectical Materialism", 1983)

"Any system that insulates itself from diversity in the environment tends to atrophy and lose its complexity and distinctive nature." (Gareth Morgan, "Images of Organization", 1986)

"Organization denotes those relations that must exist among the components of a system for it to be a member of a specific class. Structure denotes the components and relations that actually constitute a particular unity and make its organization real." (Humberto Maturana, "The Tree of Knowledge", 1987)

"The dynamics of any system can be explained by showing the relations between its parts and the regularities of their interactions so as to reveal its organization. For us to fully understand it, however, we need not only to see it as a unity operating in its internal dynamics, but also to see it in its circumstances, i.e., in the context to which its operation connects it. This understanding requires that we adopt a certain distance for observation, a perspective that in the case of historical systems implies a reference to their origin. This can be easy, for instance, in the case of man-made machines, for we have access to every detail of their manufacture. The situation is not that easy, however, as regards living beings: their genesis and their history are never directly visible and can be reconstructed only by fragments."  (Humberto Maturana, "The Tree of Knowledge", 1987)

"A system of variables is 'interrelated' if an action that affects or meant to affect one part of the system will also affect other parts of it. Interrelatedness guarantees that an action aimed at one variable will have side effects and long-term repercussions. A large number of variables will make it easy to overlook them." (Dietrich Dorner, "The Logic of Failure: Recognizing and Avoiding Error in Complex Situations", 1989)

"Systems, acting dynamically, produce (and incidentally, reproduce) their own boundaries, as structures which are complementary (necessarily so) to their motion and dynamics. They are liable, for all that, to instabilities chaos, as commonly interpreted of chaotic form, where nowadays, is remote from the random. Chaos is a peculiar situation in which the trajectories of a system, taken in the traditional sense, fail to converge as they approach their limit cycles or 'attractors' or 'equilibria'. Instead, they diverge, due to an increase, of indefinite magnitude, in amplification or gain." (Gordon Pask, "Different Kinds of Cybernetics", 1992)

 "What is a system? A system is a network of interdependent components that work together to try to accomplish the aim of the system. A system must have an aim. Without an aim, there is no system. The aim of the system must be clear to everyone in the system. The aim must include plans for the future. The aim is a value judgment.” (William E Deming, "The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education”, 1993)

"The impossibility of constructing a complete, accurate quantitative description of a complex system forces observers to pick which aspects of the system they most wish to understand." (Thomas Levenson, "Measure for Measure: A musical history of science", 1994)

"Complex adaptive systems have the property that if you run them - by just letting the mathematical variable of 'time' go forward - they'll naturally progress from chaotic, disorganized, undifferentiated, independent states to organized, highly differentiated, and highly interdependent states. Organized structures emerge spontaneously. [...]A weak system gives rise only to simpler forms of self-organization; a strong one gives rise to more complex forms, like life. (J Doyne Farmer, "The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution", 1995)

"Self-organization refers to the spontaneous formation of patterns and pattern change in open, nonequilibrium systems. […] Self-organization provides a paradigm for behavior and cognition, as well as the structure and function of the nervous system. In contrast to a computer, which requires particular programs to produce particular results, the tendency for self-organization is intrinsic to natural systems under certain conditions." (J A Scott Kelso, "Dynamic Patterns : The Self-organization of Brain and Behavior", 1995)

"All systems evolve, although the rates of evolution may vary over time both between and within systems. The rate of evolution is a function of both the inherent stability of the system and changing environmental circumstances. But no system can be stabilized forever. For the universe as a whole, an isolated system, time’s arrow points toward greater and greater breakdown, leading to complete molecular chaos, maximum entropy, and heat death. For open systems, including the living systems that are of major interest to us and that interchange matter and energy with their external environments, time’s arrow points to evolution toward greater and greater complexity. Thus, the universe consists of islands of increasing order in a sea of decreasing order. Open systems evolve and maintain structure by exporting entropy to their external environments." (L Douglas Kiel, "Chaos Theory in the Social Sciences: Foundations and Applications", 1996)

"By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modification of a precursor, system, because any precursors to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional." (Michael Behe, "Darwin’s Black Box", 1996)

"Understanding ecological interdependence means understanding relationships. It requires the shifts of perception that are characteristic of systems thinking - from the parts to the whole, from objects to relationships, from contents to patterns. […] Nourishing the community means nourishing those relationships." (Fritjof Capra, "The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems", 1996)

"The notion of system we are interested in may be described generally as a complex of elements or components directly or indirectly related in a network of interrelationships of various kinds, such that it constitutes a dynamic whole with emergent properties." (Walter F. Buckley, "Society: A Complex Adaptive System - Essays in Social Theory", 1998)

"Formulation of a mathematical model is the first step in the process of analyzing the behaviour of any real system. However, to produce a useful model, one must first adopt a set of simplifying assumptions which have to be relevant in relation to the physical features of the system to be modelled and to the specific information one is interested in. Thus, the aim of modelling is to produce an idealized description of reality, which is both expressible in a tractable mathematical form and sufficiently close to reality as far as the physical mechanisms of interest are concerned." (Francois Axisa, "Discrete Systems" Vol. I, 2001)

"Nature normally hates power laws. In ordinary systems all quantities follow bell curves, and correlations decay rapidly, obeying exponential laws. But all that changes if the system is forced to undergo a phase transition. Then power laws emerge-nature's unmistakable sign that chaos is departing in favor of order. The theory of phase transitions told us loud and clear that the road from disorder to order is maintained by the powerful forces of self-organization and is paved by power laws. It told us that power laws are not just another way of characterizing a system's behavior. They are the patent signatures of self-organization in complex systems." (Albert-László Barabási, "Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life", 2002)

"[…] networks are the prerequisite for describing any complex system, indicating that complexity theory must inevitably stand on the shoulders of network theory. It is tempting to step in the footsteps of some of my predecessors and predict whether and when we will tame complexity. If nothing else, such a prediction could serve as a benchmark to be disproven. Looking back at the speed with which we disentangled the networks around us after the discovery of scale-free networks, one thing is sure: Once we stumble across the right vision of complexity, it will take little to bring it to fruition. When that will happen is one of the mysteries that keeps many of us going." (Albert-László Barabási, "Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life", 2002)

"One of the key insights of the systems approach has been the realization that the network is a pattern that is common to all life. Wherever we see life, we see networks." (Fritjof Capra, "The Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living", 2002)

"Technology can relieve the symptoms of a problem without affecting the underlying causes. Faith in technology as the ultimate solution to all problems can thus divert our attention from the most fundamental problem - the problem of growth in a finite system - and prevent us from taking effective action to solve it." (Donella H Meadows & Dennis L Meadows, "The Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Update", 2004)

"The progress of science requires the growth of understanding in both directions, downward from the whole to the parts and upward from the parts to the whole." (Freeman Dyson, "The Scientist As Rebel", 2006)

"Humans have difficulty perceiving variables accurately […]. However, in general, they tend to have inaccurate perceptions of system states, including past, current, and future states. This is due, in part, to limited ‘mental models’ of the phenomena of interest in terms of both how things work and how to influence things. Consequently, people have difficulty determining the full implications of what is known, as well as considering future contingencies for potential systems states and the long-term value of addressing these contingencies. " (William B. Rouse, "People and Organizations: Explorations of Human-Centered Design", 2007)

"Systemic problems trace back in the end to worldviews. But worldviews themselves are in flux and flow. Our most creative opportunity of all may be to reshape those worldviews themselves. New ideas can change everything." (Anthony Weston, "How to Re-Imagine the World", 2007)

"A model is a representation in that it (or its properties) is chosen to stand for some other entity (or its properties), known as the target system. A model is a tool in that it is used in the service of particular goals or purposes; typically these purposes involve answering some limited range of questions about the target system." (Wendy S Parker, "Confirmation and Adequacy-for-Purpose in Climate Modelling", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes, Vol. 83, 2009)

"System theorists know that it's easy to couple simple-to-understand systems into a ‘super system’ that's capable of displaying behavioral modes that cannot be seen in any of its constituent parts. This is the process called ‘emergence’." (John L Casti, [interview with Austin Allen], 2012)

"When some systems are stuck in a dangerous impasse, randomness and only randomness can unlock them and set them free." (Nassim N Taleb, "Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder", 2012) 

"Complex systems defy intuitive solutions. Even a third-order, linear differential equation is unsolvable by inspection. Yet, important situations in management, economics, medicine, and social behavior usually lose reality if simplified to less than fifth-order nonlinear dynamic systems. Attempts to deal with nonlinear dynamic systems using ordinary processes of description and debate lead to internal inconsistencies. Underlying assumptions may have been left unclear and contradictory, and mental models are often logically incomplete. Resulting behavior is likely to be contrary to that implied by the assumptions being made about' underlying system structure and governing policies." (Jay W. Forrester, "Modeling for What Purpose?", The Systems Thinker Vol. 24 (2), 2013)

"Simplicity in a system tends to increase that system's efficiency. Because less can go wrong with fewer parts, less will. Complexity in a system tends to increase that system's inefficiency; the greater the number of variables, the greater the probability of those variables clashing, and in turn, the greater the potential for conflict and disarray. Because more can go wrong, more will. That is why centralized systems are inclined to break down quickly and become enmeshed in greater unintended consequences." (Lawrence K Samuels, "Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action", 2013)

"Although cascading failures may appear random and unpredictable, they follow reproducible laws that can be quantified and even predicted using the tools of network science. First, to avoid damaging cascades, we must understand the structure of the network on which the cascade propagates. Second, we must be able to model the dynamical processes taking place on these networks, like the flow of electricity. Finally, we need to uncover how the interplay between the network structure and dynamics affects the robustness of the whole system." (Albert-László Barabási, "Network Science", 2016)

More quotes on "Systems" at the-web-of-knowledge.blogspot.com.

Performance Management: Performance (Just the Quotes)

"If we view organizations as adaptive, problem-solving structures, then inferences about effectiveness have to be made, not from static measures of output, but on the basis of the processes through which the organization approaches problems. In other words, no single measurement of organizational efficiency or satisfaction - no single time-slice of organizational performance can provide valid indicators of organizational health." (Warren G Bennis, "General Systems Yearbook", 1962)

"Workers cannot be expected to perform regularly and consistently at full capacity." (Wilbert E Scheer, "Leadership in the Office", 1963)

"The absence of a marked or consistent correlation between job satisfaction and performance casts some doubt on the generality or intensity of either effects of satisfaction on performance or performance on satisfaction." (Victor H Vroom,  "Work and Motivation", 1964)

"Management is defined here as the accomplishment of desired objectives by establishing an environment favorable to performance by people operating in organized groups." (Harold Koontz, "Principles of Management", 1968)

"The management of a system has to deal with the generation of the plans for the system, i. e., consideration of all of the things we have discussed, the overall goals, the environment, the utilization of resources and the components. The management sets the component goals, allocates the resources, and controls the system performance." (C West Churchman, "The Systems Approach", 1968)

"The systems approach to problems focuses on systems taken as a whole, not on their parts taken separately. Such an approach is concerned with total - system performance even when a change in only one or a few of its parts is contemplated because there are some properties of systems that can only be treated adequately from a holistic point of view. These properties derive from the relationship between parts of systems: how the parts interact and fit together." (Russell L Ackoff, "Towards a System of Systems Concepts", 1971) 

"Effectiveness is the foundation of success - efficiency is a minimum condition for survival after success has been achieved. Efficiency is concerned with doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things." (Peter Drucker, "Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Challenges", 1973)

"Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations." (Peter Drucker, "Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Challenges", 1973)

"[Management] has authority only as long as it performs." (Peter F Drucker, "Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices", 1973)

"To be productive the individual has to have control, to a substantial extent, over the speed, rhythm, and attention spans with which he is working […] While work is, therefore, best laid out as uniform, working is best organized with a considerable degree of diversity. Working requires latitude to change speed, rhythm, and attention span fairly often. It requires fairly frequent changes in operating routines as well. What is good industrial engineering for work is exceedingly poor human engineering for the worker." (Peter F Drucker, "Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices", 1973)

"'Management' means, in the last analysis, the substitution of thought for brawn and muscle, of knowledge for folkways and superstition, and of cooperation for force. It means the substitution of responsibility for obedience to rank, and of authority of performance for authority of rank. (Peter F Drucker, "People and Performance", 1977)

"[...] when a variety of tasks have all to be performed in cooperation, syncronization, and communication, a business needs managers and a management. Otherwise, things go out of control; plans fail to turn into action; or, worse, different parts of the plans get going at different speeds, different times, and with different objectives and goals, and the favor of the 'boss' becomes more important than performance." (Peter F Drucker, "People and Performance", 1977)

"Executive stress is difficult to overstate when there is a conflict among policy restrictions, near-term performance, long-term good of the company, and personal survival." (Bruce Henderson, "Henderson on Corporate Strategy", 1979)

"Keep it simple. The purpose of performance evaluation should be to draw a line between above and below average performers." (Joe Kelly, "How Managers Manage", 1980)

"Management by objectives is a philosophy of managing that is based on identifying purposes, objectives, and desired results, establishing a realistic program for obtaining these results, and evaluating performance in achieving them." (R Henry Miglione, "An MBO Approach to Long-Range Planning", 1983)

"It is much more difficult to measure non-performance than performance. Performance stands out like a ton of diamonds. Non-performance can almost always be explained away." (Harold Geneen & Alvin Moscow, "Managing", 1984)

"The best way to inspire people to superior performance is to convince them by everything you do and by your everyday attitude that you are wholeheartedly supporting them." (Harold Geneen & Alvin Moscow, "Managing", 1984)

"An ability to tolerate ambiguity helps to avoid overdetermining one's goals. [...] As they proceed, peak performers can adjust goals. [...] What they are doing is balancing between change and stasis, between innovation and consolidation." (Charles Garfield, "Peak Performers", 1986)

"Goal setting has traditionally been based on past performance. This practice has tended to perpetuate the sins of the past." (Joseph M Juran,  1986)

"If you want to utilize your people to a maximum degree, it is definitely cheaper to have an existing guy work overtime than to add another person." (Josef Ehrengruber, "Regardies", 1986)

"Operating managers should in no way ignore short-term performance imperatives [when implementing productivity improvement programs.] The pressures arise from many sources and must be dealt with. Moreover, unless managers know that the day-to-day job is under control and improvements are being made, they will not have the time, the perspective, the self-confidence, or the good working relationships that are essential for creative, realistic strategic thinking and decision making." (Robert H Schaefer, Harvard Business Review, 1986)

"Peak performers concentrate on solving problems rather than placing blame for them." (Charles Garfield, Peak Performers, 1986)

"How you measure the performance of your managers directly affects the way they act." (John Dearden, Harvard Business Review, 1987)

"The manager must decide what type of group is wanted. If cooperation, teamwork, and synergy really matter, then one aims for high task interdependence. One structures the jobs of group members so that they have to interact frequently [...] to get their jobs done. Important outcomes are made dependent on group performance. The outcomes are distributed equally. If frenzied, independent activity is the goal, then one aims for low task interdependence and large rewards are distributed competitively and unequally." (Gregory P Shea & Richard A Guzzo, Sloan Management Review, 1987)

"If our people develop faster than a competitor's people, then they're worth more." (James M Biggar, USA Today, 1988)

"When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality." (Joe Paterno, American Heritage, 1988)

"A manager of people needs to understand that all people are different. This is not ranking people. He needs to understand that the performance of anyone is governed largely by the system that he works in, the responsibility of management." (W Edwards Deming, "The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education", 1993)

Performance Management: Teams (Just the Quotes)

"A few honest men are better than numbers." (Oliver Cromwell, [Letter to William Spring], 1643)

"The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready." (Henry D Thoreau, Walden, 1854)

"It is the lone worker who makes the first advance in a subject: the details may be worked out by a team, but the prime idea is due to the enterprise, thought and perception of an individual." (Alexander Fleming, [Address at Edinburgh University] 1951)

"Top management work is work for a team rather than one man." (Peter F Drucker, "Memos for Management: Leadership", 1983)

"Teamwork is consciously espoused but unwittingly shunned by most people in business because they are deathly afraid of it. They think it will render them anonymous, invisible." (Srully Blotnick, "The Corporate Steeplechase", 1984)

"The whittling away of middle management is further reinforcing the trend for companies to smash the hierarchical pyramid and adopt new people structures such as networks, intrapreneurs, and small teams." (John Naisbett & Patricia Aburdene, "Re-inventing the Corporation", 1985)

"Teams are less likely [than individuals] to overlook key issues and problems or take the wrong actions." (Eugene Raudsepp, MTS Digest, 1987)

"The manager must decide what type of group is wanted. If cooperation, teamwork, and synergy really matter, then one aims for high task interdependence. One structures the jobs of group members so that they have to interact frequently [...] to get their jobs done. Important outcomes are made dependent on group performance. The outcomes are distributed equally. If frenzied, independent activity is the goal, then one aims for low task interdependence and large rewards are distributed competitively and unequally." (Gregory P Shea & Richard A Guzzo, Sloan Management Review, 1987)

"We know we need better teamwork; the question is how to achieve it. Very few people defend the adversarial relationship, but no one has a clear idea of how to do away with it. The usual method is exhortation. But this approach has failed us time and time again." (Robert F Daniell, Harvard Business Review, 1987)

"Managing requires setting aside one's ego to encourage and develop the work of others. It requires a 'big picture' and team perspective rather than an individual-achiever perspective." (Sara M Brown, 1988)

"When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality." (Joe Paterno, American Heritage, 1988)

"Complacency is the last hurdle standing between any team and its potential greatness." (Pat Riley, "Winner Within Success", 1993)

"Even when you have skilled, motivated, hard-working people, the wrong team structure can undercut their efforts instead of catapulting them to success. A poor team structure can increase development time, reduce quality, damage morale, increase turnover, and ultimately lead to project cancellation." (Steve McConnell, "Rapid Development", 1996)

"Software projects fail for one of two general reasons: the project team lacks the knowledge to conduct a software project successfully, or the project team lacks the resolve to conduct a project effectively." (Steve McConnell, "Software Project Survival Guide", 1997)

"We think most process initiatives are silly. Well-intentioned managers and teams get so wrapped up in executing processes that they forget that they are being paid for results, not process execution. (Peter Coad et al, "Java Modeling in Color with UML", 1999)

"The business changes. The technology changes. The team changes. The team members change. The problem isn't change, per se, because change is going to happen; the problem, rather, is the inability to cope with change when it comes." (Kent Beck, "Extreme Programming Explained", 2000)

"A well-functioning team of adequate people will complete a project almost regardless of the process or technology they are asked to use (although the process and technology may help or hinder them along the way)." (Alistair Cockburn, "Agile Software Development", 2001)

"Team leaders have to connect with their team and themselves. If they don't know their team's strengths and weaknesses, they cannot hand off responsibilities to the team. And if they don't know their own strengths and weaknesses, they will not hand off responsibilities to the team." (John C Maxwell, "Teamwork Makes the Dream Work", 2002)

"Good bosses provide a constant flow of clear and concise information and encourage you and the rest of your team to do the same." (John Hoover, "How to Work for an Idiot", 2004)

"On a team, trust is all about vulnerability, which is difficult for most people." (Patrick Lencioni, "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: Participant Workbook", 2007)

"Nothing has a more profound and long-term degrading effect upon a development project than bad code. Bad schedules can be redone, bad requirements can be redefined. Bad team dynamics can be repaired. But bad code rots and ferments, becoming an inexorable weight that drags the team down." (Robert C Martin, "Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship", 2008)

"Mission is at the heart of what you do as a team. Goals are merely steps to its achievement." (Patrick Dixon, "Building a Better Business", 2005)

"The facts are in: diverse companies and teams consistently outperform all others. It's not only the smart thing and the right thing, it makes getting the job done much more interesting." (Marilyn C Nelson, "How We Lead Matters: Reflections on a Life of Leadership", 2008)

"Teams should be able to act with the same unity of purpose and focus as a well-motivated individual." (Bill Gates, "Business @ the Speed of Thought: Succeeding in the Digital Economy", 2009)

"If your team is filled with people who work for the company, you'll soon be defeated by tribes of people who work for a cause." (Seth Godin, "The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?", 2012)

"Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It's about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others' success, and then standing back and letting them shine." (Chris Hadfield, "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth", 2013) 

"A 'stream' is the continuous flow of work aligned to a business domain or organizational capability. Continuous flow requires clarity of purpose and responsibility so that multiple teams can coexist, each with their own flow of work. A stream-aligned team is a team aligned to a single, valuable stream of work; this might be a single product or service, a single set of features, a single user journey, or a single user persona." (Matthew Skelton & Manuel Pais, "Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow", 2019)

"Organizations that rely too heavily on org charts and matrixes to split and control work often fail to create the necessary conditions to embrace innovation while still delivering at a fast pace. In order to succeed at that, organizations need stable teams and effective team patterns and interactions. They need to invest in empowered, skilled teams as the foundation for agility and adaptability. To stay alive in ever more competitive markets, organizations need teams and people who are able to sense when context changes and evolve accordingly." (Matthew Skelton & Manuel Pais, "Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow", 2019)

"Teams take time to form and be effective. Typically, a team can take from two weeks to three months or more to become a cohesive unit. When (or if) a team reaches that special state, it can be many times more effective than individuals alone. If it takes three months for a team to become highly effective, we need to provide stability around and within the team to allow them to reach that level." (Matthew Skelton & Manuel Pais, "Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow", 2019)

"One of the great enemies of design is when systems or objects become more complex than a person - or even a team of people - can keep in their heads. This is why software is generally beneath contempt." (Bran Ferren)

23 December 2014

Systems Engineering: Entropy (Just the Quotes)

"The second law of thermodynamics appears solely as a law of probability, entropy as a measure of the probability, and the increase of entropy is equivalent to a statement that more probable events follow less probable ones." (Max Planck, "A Survey of Physics", 1923)

"True equilibria can occur only in closed systems and that, in open systems, disequilibria called ‘steady states’, or ‘flow equilibria’ are the predominant and characteristic feature. According to the second law of thermodynamics a closed system must eventually attain a time-independent equilibrium state, with maximum entropy and minimum free energy. An open system may, under certain conditions, attain a time-independent state where the system remains constant as a whole and in its phases, though there is a continuous flow of component materials. This is called a steady state. Steady states are irreversible as a whole. […] A closed system in equilibrium does not need energy for its preservation, nor can energy be obtained from it. In order to perform work, a system must be in disequilibrium, tending toward equilibrium and maintaining a steady state, Therefore the character of an open system is the necessary condition for the continuous working capacity of the organism." (Ludwig on Bertalanffy, "Theoretische Biologie: Band 1: Allgemeine Theorie, Physikochemie, Aufbau und Entwicklung des Organismus", 1932)

"An isolated system or a system in a uniform environment (which for the present consideration we do best to include as a part of the system we contemplate) increases its entropy and more or less rapidly approaches the inert state of maximum entropy. We now recognize this fundamental law of physics to be just the natural tendency of things to approach the chaotic state (the same tendency that the books of a library or the piles of papers and manuscripts on a writing desk display) unless we obviate it. (The analogue of irregular heat motion, in this case, is our handling those objects now and again without troubling to put them back in their proper places.)" (Erwin Schrödinger, "What is Life?", 1944)

"Every process, event, happening - call it what you will; in a word, everything that is going on in Nature means an increase of the entropy of the part of the world where it is going on. Thus a living organism continually increases its entropy – or, as you may say, produces positive entropy – and thus tends to approach the dangerous state of maximum entropy, which is death. It can only keep aloof from it, i.e. alive, by continually drawing from its environment negative entropy – which is something very positive as we shall immediately see. What an organism feeds upon is negative entropy. Or, to put it less paradoxically, the essential thing in metabolism is that the organism succeeds in freeing itself from all the entropy it cannot help producing while alive." (Erwin Schrödinger, "What is Life?", 1944)

"Time itself will come to an end. For entropy points the direction of time. Entropy is the measure of randomness. When all system and order in the universe have vanished, when randomness is at its maximum, and entropy cannot be increased, when there is no longer any sequence of cause and effect, in short when the universe has run down, there will be no direction to time - there will be no time." (Lincoln Barnett, "The Universe and Dr. Einstein", 1948)

"Just as entropy is a measure of disorganization, the information carried by a set of messages is a measure of organization. In fact, it is possible to interpret the information carried by a message as essentially the negative of its entropy, and the negative logarithm of its probability. That is, the more probable the message, the less information it gives. Clichés, for example, are less illuminating than great poems." (Norbert Wiener, "The Human Use of Human Beings", 1950)

"[…] the characteristic tendency of entropy is to increase. As entropy increases, the universe, and all closed systems in the universe, tend naturally to deteriorate and lose their distinctiveness, to move from the least to the most probable state, from a state of organization and differentiation in which distinctions and forms exist, to a state of chaos and sameness." (Norbert Wiener, "The Human Use of Human Beings", 1950)

"The powerful notion of entropy, which comes from a very special branch of physics […] is certainly useful in the study of communication and quite helpful when applied in the theory of language." (J Robert Oppenheimer, "The Growth of Science and the Structure of Culture", Daedalus 87 (1), 1958) 

"Entropy is a measure of the heat energy in a substance that has been lost and is no longer available for work. It is a measure of the deterioration of a system." (William B. Sill & Norman Hoss (Eds.), "Popular Science Encyclopedia of the Sciences", 1963)

"Suppose we divide the space into little volume elements. If we have black and white molecules, how many ways could we distribute them among the volume elements so that white is on one side and black is on the other? On the other hand, how many ways could we distribute them with no restriction on which goes where? Clearly, there are many more ways to arrange them in the latter case. We measure 'disorder' by the number of ways that the insides can be arranged, so that from the outside it looks the same. The logarithm of that number of ways is the entropy. The number of ways in the separated case is less, so the entropy is less, or the 'disorder' is less." (Richard P Feynman, "Order And Entropy" ["The Feynman Lectures on Physics"], 1964)

"The homeostatic principle does not apply literally to the functioning of all complex living systems, in that in counteracting entropy they move toward growth and expansion." (Daniel Katz, "The Social Psychology of Organizations", 1966)

"Higher, directed forms of energy (e.g., mechanical, electric, chemical) are dissipated, that is, progressively converted into the lowest form of energy, i.e., undirected heat movement of molecules; chemical systems tend toward equilibria with maximum entropy; machines wear out owing to friction; in communication channels, information can only be lost by conversion of messages into noise but not vice versa, and so forth." (Ludwig von Bertalanffy, "Robots, Men and Minds", 1967)

"To adapt to a changing environment, the system needs a variety of stable states that is large enough to react to all perturbations but not so large as to make its evolution uncontrollably chaotic. The most adequate states are selected according to their fitness, either directly by the environment, or by subsystems that have adapted to the environment at an earlier stage. Formally, the basic mechanism underlying self-organization is the (often noise-driven) variation which explores different regions in the system’s state space until it enters an attractor. This precludes further variation outside the attractor, and thus restricts the freedom of the system’s components to behave independently. This is equivalent to the increase of coherence, or decrease of statistical entropy, that defines self-organization." (Francis Heylighen, "The Science Of Self-Organization And Adaptivity", 1970)

"In an isolated system, which cannot exchange energy and matter with the surroundings, this tendency is expressed in terms of a function of the macroscopic state of the system: the entropy." (Ilya Prigogine, "Thermodynamics of Evolution", 1972) 

"There is nothing supernatural about the process of self-organization to states of higher entropy; it is a general property of systems, regardless of their materials and origin. It does not violate the Second Law of thermodynamics since the decrease in entropy within an open system is always offset by the increase of entropy in its surroundings." (Ervin László, "Introduction to Systems Philosophy", 1972)

"Entropy theory, on the other hand, is not concerned with the probability of succession in a series of items but with the overall distribution of kinds of items in a given arrangement." (Rudolf Arnheim, "Entropy and Art: An Essay on Disorder and Order", 1974) 

"The amount of information conveyed by the message increases as the amount of uncertainty as to what message actually will be produced becomes greater. A message which is one out of ten possible messages conveys a smaller amount of information than a message which is one out of a million possible messages. The entropy of communication theory is a measure of this uncertainty and the uncertainty, or entropy, is taken as the measure of the amount of information conveyed by a message from a source. The more we know about what message the source will produce, the less uncertainty, the less the entropy, and the less the information." (John R Pierce, "An Introduction to Information Theory: Symbols, Signals and Noise", 1979) 

"Thus, an increase in entropy means a decrease in our ability to change thermal energy, the energy of heat, into mechanical energy. An increase of entropy means a decrease of available energy." (John R Pierce, "An Introduction to Information Theory: Symbols, Signals and Noise", 1979)

"The third model regards mind as an information processing system. This is the model of mind subscribed to by cognitive psychologists and also to some extent by the ego psychologists. Since an acquisition of information entails maximization of negative entropy and complexity, this model of mind assumes mind to be an open system." (Thaddus E Weckowicz, "Models of Mental Illness", 1984) 

"Disorder increases with time because we measure time in the direction in which disorder increases." (Stephen W Hawking, "The Direction of Time", New Scientist 115 (1568), 1987)

"Somehow, after all, as the universe ebbs toward its final equilibrium in the featureless heat bath of maximum entropy, it manages to create interesting structures." (James Gleick, "Chaos: Making a New Science", 1987)

"Just like a computer, we must remember things in the order in which entropy increases. This makes the second law of thermodynamics almost trivial. Disorder increases with time because we measure time in the direction in which disorder increases."  (Stephen Hawking, "A Brief History of Time", 1988)

"The new information technologies can be seen to drive societies toward increasingly dynamic high-energy regions further and further from thermodynamical equilibrium, characterized by decreasing specific entropy and increasingly dense free-energy flows, accessed and processed by more and more complex social, economic, and political structures." (Ervin László, "Information Technology and Social Change: An Evolutionary Systems Analysis", Behavioral Science 37, 1992) 

"The second law of thermodynamics, which requires average entropy (or disorder) to increase, does not in any way forbid local order from arising through various mechanisms of self-organization, which can turn accidents into frozen ones producing extensive regularities. Again, such mechanisms are not restricted to complex adaptive systems." (Murray Gell-Mann, "What is Complexity?", Complexity Vol 1 (1), 1995)

"All systems evolve, although the rates of evolution may vary over time both between and within systems. The rate of evolution is a function of both the inherent stability of the system and changing environmental circumstances. But no system can be stabilized forever. For the universe as a whole, an isolated system, time’s arrow points toward greater and greater breakdown, leading to complete molecular chaos, maximum entropy, and heat death. For open systems, including the living systems that are of major interest to us and that interchange matter and energy with their external environments, time’s arrow points to evolution toward greater and greater complexity. Thus, the universe consists of islands of increasing order in a sea of decreasing order. Open systems evolve and maintain structure by exporting entropy to their external environments." (L Douglas Kiel, "Chaos Theory in the Social Sciences: Foundations and Applications", 1996)

"Contrary to what happens at equilibrium, or near equilibrium, systems far from equilibrium do not conform to any minimum principle that is valid for functions of free energy or entropy production." (Ilya Prigogine, "The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature", 1996) 

"Complex systems operate under conditions far from equilibrium. Complex systems need a constant flow of energy to change, evolve and survive as complex entities. Equilibrium, symmetry and complete stability mean death. Just as the flow, of energy is necessary to fight entropy and maintain the complex structure of the system, society can only survive as a process. It is defined not by its origins or its goals, but by what it is doing." (Paul Cilliers,"Complexity and Postmodernism: Understanding Complex Systems", 1998)

"In a closed system, the change in entropy must always be 'positive', meaning toward death. However, in open biological or social systems, entropy can be arrested and may even be transformed into negative entropy - a process of more complete organization and enhanced ability to transform resources. Why? Because the system imports energy and resources from its environment, leading to renewal. This is why education and learning are so important, as they provide new and stimulating input (termed neg-entropy) that can transform each of us." (Stephen G Haines, "The Managers Pocket Guide to Systems Thinking & Learning", 1998)

"Physical systems are subject to the force of entropy, which increases until eventually the entire system fails. The tendency toward maximum entropy is a movement to disorder, complete lack of resource transformation, and death." (Stephen G Haines, "The Managers Pocket Guide to Systems Thinking & Learning", 1998)

"All systems have a tendency toward maximum entropy, disorder, and death. Importing resources from the environment is key to long-term viability; closed systems move toward this disorganization faster than open systems." (Stephen G Haines, "The Systems Thinking Approach to Strategic Planning and Management", 2000)

"Defined from a societal standpoint, information may be seen as an entity which reduces maladjustment between system and environment. In order to survive as a thermodynamic entity, all social systems are dependent upon an information flow. This explanation is derived from the parallel between entropy and information where the latter is regarded as negative entropy (negentropy). In more common terms information is a form of processed data or facts about objects, events or persons, which are meaningful for the receiver, inasmuch as an increase in knowledge reduces uncertainty." (Lars Skyttner, "General Systems Theory: Ideas and Applications", 2001)

"Emergent self-organization in multi-agent systems appears to contradict the second law of thermodynamics. This paradox has been explained in terms of a coupling between the macro level that hosts self-organization (and an apparent reduction in entropy), and the micro level (where random processes greatly increase entropy). Metaphorically, the micro level serves as an entropy 'sink', permitting overall system entropy to increase while sequestering this increase from the interactions where self-organization is desired." (H Van Dyke Parunak & Sven Brueckner, "Entropy and Self-Organization in Multi-Agent Systems", Proceedings of the International Conference on Autonomous Agents, 2001)

"Entropy [...] is the amount of disorder or randomness present in any system. All non-living systems tend toward disorder; left alone they will eventually lose all motion and degenerate into an inert mass. When this permanent stage is reached and no events occur, maximum entropy is attained. A living system can, for a finite time, avert this unalterable process by importing energy from its environment. It is then said to create negentropy, something which is characteristic of all kinds of life." (Lars Skyttner, "General Systems Theory: Ideas and Applications", 2001)

"The acquisition of information is a flow from noise to order - a process converting entropy to redundancy. During this process, the amount of information decreases but is compensated by constant recoding. In the recoding the amount of information per unit increases by means of a new symbol which represents the total amount of the old. The maturing thus implies information condensation. Simultaneously, the redundance decreases, which render the information more difficult to interpret." (Lars Skyttner, "General Systems Theory: Ideas and Applications", 2001)

"The function of living matter is apparently to expand the organization of the universe. Here, locally decreased entropy as a result of biological order in existing life is invalidating the effects of the second law of thermodynamics, although at the expense of increased entropy in the whole system. It is the running down of the universe that made the sun and the earth possible. It is the running down of the sun that made life and us possible." (Lars Skyttner, "General Systems Theory: Ideas and Applications", 2001)

"Nature normally hates power laws. In ordinary systems all quantities follow bell curves, and correlations decay rapidly, obeying exponential laws. But all that changes if the system is forced to undergo a phase transition. Then power laws emerge-nature's unmistakable sign that chaos is departing in favor of order. The theory of phase transitions told us loud and clear that the road from disorder to order is maintained by the powerful forces of self-organization and is paved by power laws. It told us that power laws are not just another way of characterizing a system's behavior. They are the patent signatures of self-organization in complex systems." (Albert-László Barabási, "Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life", 2002)

"Entropy is not about speeds or positions of particles, the way temperature and pressure and volume are, but about our lack of information." (Hans C von Baeyer," Information, The New Language of Science", 2003)

"The total disorder in the universe, as measured by the quantity that physicists call entropy, increases steadily steadily as we go from past to future. On the other hand, the total order in the universe, as measured by the complexity and permanence of organized structures, also increases steadily as we go from past to future." (Freeman Dyson, [Page-Barbour lecture], 2004)

"At the foundation of classical thermodynamics are the first and second laws. The first law formulates that the total energy of a system is conserved, while the second law states that the entropy of an isolated system can only increase. The second law implies that the free energy of an isolated system is successively degraded by diabatic processes over time, leading to entropy production. This eventually results in an equilibrium state of maximum entropy. In its statistical interpretation, the direction towards higher entropy can be interpreted as a transition to more probable states." (Axel Kleidon & Ralph D Lorenz, "Entropy Production by Earth System Processes" [in "Non- quilibrium Thermodynamics and the Production of Entropy"], 2005)

"However, the law of accelerating returns pertains to evolution, which is not a closed system. It takes place amid great chaos and indeed depends on the disorder in its midst, from which it draws its options for diversity. And from these options, an evolutionary process continually prunes its choices to create ever greater order."  (Ray Kurzweil, "The Singularity is Near", 2005)

"The second law of thermodynamics states that in an isolated system, entropy can only increase, not decrease. Such systems evolve to their state of maximum entropy, or thermodynamic equilibrium. Therefore, physical self-organizing systems cannot be isolated: they require a constant input of matter or energy with low entropy, getting rid of the internally generated entropy through the output of heat ('dissipation'). This allows them to produce ‘dissipative structures’ which maintain far from thermodynamic equilibrium. Life is a clear example of order far from thermodynamic equilibrium." (Carlos Gershenson, "Design and Control of Self-organizing Systems", 2007)

"We have to be aware that even in mathematical and physical models of self-organizing systems, it is the observer who ascribes properties, aspects, states, and probabilities; and therefore entropy or order to the system. But organization is more than low entropy: it is structure that has a function or purpose." (Carlos Gershenson, "Design and Control of Self-organizing Systems", 2007)

"Heat is the energy of random chaotic motion, and entropy is the amount of hidden microscopic information." (Leonard Susskind, "The Black Hole War", 2008)

"Second Law of thermodynamics is not an equality, but an inequality, asserting merely that a certain quantity referred to as the entropy of an isolated system - which is a measure of the system’s disorder, or ‘randomness’ - is greater (or at least not smaller) at later times than it was at earlier times." (Roger Penrose, "Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe", 2010) 

"The laws of thermodynamics tell us something quite different. Economic activity is merely borrowing low-entropy energy inputs from the environment and transforming them into temporary products and services of value. In the transformation process, often more energy is expended and lost to the environment than is embedded in the particular good or service being produced." (Jeremy Rifkin, "The Third Industrial Revolution", 2011)

"In a physical system, information is the opposite of entropy, as it involves uncommon and highly correlated configurations that are difficult to arrive at." (César A Hidalgo, "Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies", 2015)

"The passage of time and the action of entropy bring about ever-greater complexity - a branching, blossoming tree of possibilities. Blossoming disorder (things getting worse), now unfolding within the constraints of the physics of our universe, creates novel opportunities for spontaneous ordered complexity to arise." (D J MacLennan, "Frozen to Life", 2015)

"Information theory leads to the quantification of the information content of the source, as denoted by entropy, the characterization of the information-bearing capacity of the communication channel, as related to its noise characteristics, and consequently the establishment of the relationship between the information content of the source and the capacity of the channel. In short, information theory provides a quantitative measure of the information contained in message signals and help determine the capacity of a communication system to transfer this information from source to sink over a noisy channel in a reliable fashion." (Ali Grami, "Information Theory", 2016)

"The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that in an isolated system (one that is not taking in energy), entropy never decreases. (The First Law is that energy is conserved; the Third, that a temperature of absolute zero is unreachable.) Closed systems inexorably become less structured, less organized, less able to accomplish interesting and useful outcomes, until they slide into an equilibrium of gray, tepid, homogeneous monotony and stay there." (Steven Pinker, "The Second Law of Thermodynamics", 2017)

"In information theory this notion, introduced by Claude Shannon, is used to express unpredictability of information content. For instance, if a data set containing n items was divided into k groups each comprising n i items, then the entropy of such a partition is H = p 1 log( p 1 ) + … + p k log( p k ), where p i = n i / n . In case of two alternative partitions, the mutual information is a measure of the mutual dependence between these partitions." (Slawomir T Wierzchon, "Ensemble Clustering Data Mining and Databases", 2018) [where i is used as index]

"Entropy is a measure of amount of uncertainty or disorder present in the system within the possible probability distribution. The entropy and amount of unpredictability are directly proportional to each other." ("G Suseela & Y Asnath V Phamila, "Security Framework for Smart Visual Sensor Networks", 2019)

"In the physics [entropy is the] rate of system´s messiness or disorder in a physical system. In the social systems theory - social entropy is a sociological theory that evaluates social behaviors using a method based on the second law of thermodynamics." (Justína Mikulášková et al, "Spiral Management: New Concept of the Social Systems Management", 2020)

More quotes on "Entropy" at the-web-of-knowledge.blogspot.com.
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