From: IN%"[email protected]" "List for the discussion of Buckminster Fulle
s works" 3-OCT-1992 20:23:12.80
To: Howard Lawrence <[email protected]>
Subj: RE: Minimal Systems?

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Date: Sat, 3 Oct 1992 15:41:28 -0400
From: "(Gary Lawrence Murphy)" <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: Minimal Systems?
Sender: List for the discussion of Buckminster Fuller's works
<[email protected]>
To: Howard Lawrence <[email protected]>
Reply-to: List for the discussion of Buckminster Fuller's works
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In-Reply-To: <[email protected]> (Gary Lawrence Murphy)
Comments: Unregistered Shareware User

I didn't see any follow-up for this, so I thought I might take a stab
at it in hopes of spurring some discussion --- often, we may not know
the right answer, but a wrong answer is instantly apparent ;-)

In <[email protected]> ([email protected]) writes:
> I have been wondering lately what the minimal system is. It seems
> clear that it is an entity distinct from its environment, implying a
> boundary and some energy (information) exchange across the boundary.
> Fuller (in _Synergetics_, vol 1, sect 400) states quite clearly
> that a system has to have four components (tetrahedral) or more.
> These components would appear to be the "nodes" of the tetrahedron,
> and the interconnections between the nodes (six total) could represent
> some internal structure. For an example, the physical components of a
> control system could be represented by the nodes (comparator, reference,
> input function, and output function), and the information/energy flow
> between these components the tetrahedral interconnections. In this
> representation the connection (s) to the external world (system boundary)
> is not obvious (it is implicit).
> Anyone out there have comments? Can you think of a better
> mapping to the tetrahedron than a control system? How can the connection
> to the external world be made more explicit?
> ****************************************************************************
> Curt McNamara ([email protected]) |"The present would be full of all
> Mgmt. Graphics, Inc. |possible futures, if the past had
> 1401 E. 79th St. |not already projected a pattern
> Mpls., MN 55425 |upon it." Andre Gide
> ****************************************************************************

First, I think there is a fundamental design problem here that is
often overlooked in industrial and architectural works (admittedly, I
have zip experience in both). The problem is in seeing the 'system'
and wondering how it connects. Fromm my understanding of synergetic
design science, the 'system' is the whole system, and the connection
to the external world should instead be thought of as the existing
world being one of the nodes in the system. Design begins with the
minimal thinkable, the tetrahedron, and then multiplies by division,
by taking the whole system and identifying the known parts to discover
the properties of the unknowns --- this is a guiding principle of
synergetics: it is geometry.

The minimum system is an entity distinct from the rest of universe,
which is slightly different than Curt's definition. The division is
between the consideration set and the irrelevant; there will be leaks
because no system is an island ;-), but for design purposes, the
boundary defines the extent of energy interchange as represented by
the concavity of the tetrahedral interior.

The four components are four sub-tunable systems, only resolvable as a
single point, but a system none the less. Between these, we have
Euler's rules for relative abundance of topological features, so if we
can identify four stellar partners, we can postulate 6 interaction
pairs and four interaction 'facets'; we can also look at the
non-simultaneousness of the pair-interaction vertex stars as potential
leak points (in reality, each is probably involved in a myriad of other
tetrally-thinkable systems) or in Fuller's terms, shunting-off points.

Could the control system then be modelled first to say there is (1)
energy-input through the power supply, (2) something being controlled,
(3) the comparitor circuits and (4) the human who needs the control to
be done. Immediately, the design of the device has taken a turn! From
this, we can either try and dissect (3) in the light of the interaction
paths comming in and out, or we can bisect each interactive path, give
that new untunable-as-a-system point a name and apply our analysis to
(1) that system, (2) the new interaction paths to these bisect points
and between them and (3) the 'facets' of the polyhedra formed by (2).

As a designer of end-user computer programs, this is a good model of
the method I use; it is systematic, formal enough to produce good
design documents before the programming begins, and can be carried to
whatever detail allowed or desired by whoever is paying my tab. It
has a further advantage for me in outlining clearly what needs doing,
sparing my imaginative faculties for the implementation ;-)

Does any of this make sense in terms of industrial and engineering

Gary Lawrence Murphy -- [email protected] -- (613) 230-6255
Rely on reality, not a person, a system or a thought - Morita
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