Invited Session in Symposium 7 (b)


Invited Session in Symposium 7 b


Third-Order Cybernetics and the Emergence of Relational Networks



Jerry LR Chandler




Call for Abstracts


The goal of this symposium is to bring together a community of speakers from a range of disciplines to discuss the wide-ranging concepts related to the emergences of networks.  Networks, whether natural or artificial, create dependency relations that introduce novel systems properties of substantial practical and theoretical importance. 


The emergence of relational networks is viewed as a natural progression in the systematic development of cybernetics and systems thinking. In the early history of cybernetics, specific controls were postulated to guide of the system’s trajectories. Later, the roles of observers in selecting and describing the system, and in guiding and modeling network processes, enhanced our capabilities of understanding the capacities of systems and models of systems. This extension was termed second order cybernetics.


Third order cybernetics seeks to further widen the scope of cybernetics by viewing a system as quasi - autonomous components that collaborate in the emergence of self-generating goal oriented networks. Semiotics may play a substantial role in self-genesis. At present, molecular-biological, socio-political and certain electromechanical systems are known to function productively as loosely coupled networks.  Often, the strength of interaction among the nodes is irreducible to simple relations. The mathematical representation of choice for describing third order cybernetic systems is often graph theory and category theory, although a wide range of discrete and continuous methods are known to be useful.


We invite papers that contribute to understanding the description, design, construction, operations and socio-political impact of relational networks.  We anticipate the need for new logical, mathematical, and scientific approaches in order to achieve our objectives of an integrative approach toward understanding networks. Thus, papers introducing novel concepts and approaches that will open new frontiers in network theory are especially welcome.  In particular, it appears that we need methods for making causal inferences when the components of the network distributed in space and time. The mechanisms by which self-sustaining networks acquire sustainability are largely unknown. In biological systems, semiotic signaling processes are postulated to be necessary for network communication. The interdependencies of network components in chemical, ecological, and socio – political systems suggest that flows of structural relations are a prominent feature of loosely coupled networks. How can we make such notions concrete? Is the expressive power of predicate logic sufficient to meet this challenge? Is relational mathematics (graph theory, category theory), in principle, sufficient to capture the essential features of such networks?  Can polymodal logics be used to describe the parallel temporal flows of regulatory information?  We welcome contributions that will illuminate these questions and, importantly, raise penetrating new questions.


Jerry LR Chandler

McLean, VA

March 12, 2007.


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