Sociology

A Systems View of Planning. Towards a Theory of the Urban by George F. Chadwick

By George F. Chadwick

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Extra info for A Systems View of Planning. Towards a Theory of the Urban and Regional Planning Process

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VARIETY A N D ENTROPY We must turn now to the topic of "largeness" of systems, which has nothing to do with physical size. As Ashby points out, we can regard the sun and the earth as an astronomical system which is very small, having only 12 degrees of freedom, whereas man's central 10 nervous system, having Ι Ο neurons, is very large indeed. "Size" of systems is thus a matter of complexity, rather than of physical measure, and we use the concept of "variety" in comparing the complexity of systems.

1 . System characteristics. Systems This relationship can be extended to subsystems, for the inputs or outputs associated with one subsystem must be constrained to be equal, at a given time, to some of the inputs or outputs of the other subsystems comprising the system. Input α System subsystem b,a- subsystem subsystem 2 I Output b ^ β 3 FIG. 2. A simple system with input a and output b. System FIG. 3. A system with feedback loops. Thus to specify a system, we need : the inputs, the outputs, the system phase space,f and a description (model) relating inputs, outputs, and system states in time.

The third level is that of cybernetic systems, the province of homeostasis in physiology, mainly differing from the simple equilibrium system in that the transmission and interpretation of information is an essential part of the system. Fourthly, the self-maintaining structure or open system, at the cell level; distinguished from the fifth level: the geneticsocietal level of the plant; and from the sixth level : that of the animal, with increased mobility, teleological behaviour, self-awareness.

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