Overview

Homeostasis, or staying the same, is a typical property of open complex systems. Think of a cell, a bee and a law firm. Such systems react to disturbances by modifying themselves to oppose the forces creating the disturbances. Homeostasis rigorously controls many interdependent regulatory mechanisms to maintain current structure and function. But for complex systems as complex as bees and people, endurance is not enough; they must adapt to changes of the environment and must evolve. Otherwise, entropy will disorganize and destroy them.

Control systems maintain the internal state of a bee or device so that smaller systems depending upon the internal state continue to work optimally. A bee maintains her temperature as well as specific ions and molecules in her hemolymph. Controllers also permit her to adjust her response to changes in her environment. Threaten her, and she prepares to fly and sting.

After introducing control systems, we view molting as an example of system-wide control. We then see how controllers and controlled systems interact continuously and evolve.

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