Structures of Autonomous Perceptual Control Systems

Reconstruction of a talk given to the University of Toronto Mathematics Club

October 29, 1997

M. Martin Taylor

This reconstruction is available in two forms: short individual pages that can be read by following the"Next" links below, or all pages concatenated into a single page that can be printed from your browser, here.

This talk has two main conceptual sources:

W.T.Powers. Behavior: The Control of Perception. Aldyne (1973)

"All behavior is the control of perception"

Control here means exactly what is meant by "control" in an engineering context. The claim is that all living things are control systems, not just that they contain control systems.

S. Kauffman. At Home in the Universe: The Search for the laws of Self-Organization and Complexity. Oxford University Press (1995)

When a large number of active things interact, it is almost certain that organized structures will be formed. Kauffman provides many examples, and shows how phase transitions occur with changes in the strength of interactions and with the number of interacting things.

A Quick Overview


1. Collective Effects: Spin Glasses and domains

2. Feedback and Control

3. Interactions among Control Systems

4. Resource Limitations--degrees of freedom