Cybernetics: Second Edition: Or the Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine

(2013 Reprint of 1961 Second Edition. Full facsimile of th...)

2013 Reprint of 1961 Second Edition. Full facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. Acclaimed one of the "seminal books... comparable in ultimate importance to... Galileo or Malthus or Rousseau or Mill", "Cybernetics" was judged by twenty-seven historians, economists, educators, and philosophers to be one of those books published during the "past four decades," which may have a substantial impact on public thought and action in the years ahead." -- Saturday Review. Cybernetics was defined in the mid 20th century by Norbert Wiener as "the scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine." Fields of study which have influenced or been influenced by cybernetics include game theory, system theory (a mathematical counterpart to cybernetics), perceptual control theory, sociology, psychology (especially neuropsychology, behavioral psychology, cognitive psychology), philosophy, architecture, and organizational theory. Contents: Part one : original edition - Newtonian and Bergsonian time - Groups and statistical mechanics - Time series, information, and communication - Feedback and oscillation - Computing machines and nervous system - Gestalt and universals - Cybernetics and psychopathology - Information, language, and society - Part two : supplement chapters - On learning and self - reproducing machines - Brain waves and self - organizing systems.

The Human Use Of Human Beings: Cybernetics And Society (The Da Capo series in science)

(Only a few books stand as landmarks in social and scienti...)

Only a few books stand as landmarks in social and scientific upheaval. Norbert Wiener's classic is one in that small company. Founder of the science of cyberneticsthe study of the relationship between computers and the human nervous systemWiener was widely misunderstood as one who advocated the automation of human life. As this book reveals, his vision was much more complex and interesting. He hoped that machines would release people from relentless and repetitive drudgery in order to achieve more creative pursuits. At the same time he realized the danger of dehumanizing and displacement. His book examines the implications of cybernetics for education, law, language, science, technology, as he anticipates the enormous impactin effect, a third industrial revolutionthat the computer has had on our lives. Only a few books stand as landmarks in social and scientific upheaval. Norbert Wiener's classic is one in that small company. Founder of the science of cyberneticsthe study of the relationship between computers and the human nervous systemWiener was widely misunderstood as one who advocated the automation of human life. As this book reveals, his vision was much more complex and interesting. He hoped that machines would release people from relentless and repetitive drudgery in order to achieve more creative pursuits. At the same time he realized the danger of dehumanizing and displacement. His book examines the implications of cybernetics for education, law, language, science, technology, as he anticipates the enormous impactin effect, a third industrial revolutionthat the computer has had on our lives.

(These two volumes ( I Am Mathematician and Ex-Prodigy) co...)

These two volumes ( I Am Mathematician and Ex-Prodigy) comprise Norbert Wiener's autobiography. Sometimes with humor and sometimes with sadness, they render an account, without sentiment, of the life of the world-renowned mathematician and scientist. An unusual life story, Norbert Wiener's penetrating observations accompany the fascinating details describing the maturation of a major world scientist.

(These two volumes ( I Am Mathematician and Ex-Prodigy) co...)

These two volumes ( I Am Mathematician and Ex-Prodigy) comprise Norbert Wiener's autobiography. Sometimes with humor and sometimes with sadness, they render an account, without sentiment, of the life of the world-renowned mathematician and scientist. An unusual life story, Norbert Wiener's penetrating observations accompany the fascinating details describing the maturation of a major world scientist.

(Internationally honored for brilliant achievements throug...)

Internationally honored for brilliant achievements throughout his career, author of Cybernetics, ExProdigy, and the essay God and Golem, Inc., which won the National Book Award in 1964, Norbert Wiener was no ordinary mathematician. With the ability to understand how things worked or might work at a very deep level, he linked his own mathematics to engineering and provided basic ideas for the design of all sorts of inventions, from radar to communications networks to computers to artificial limbs. Wiener had an abiding concern about the ethics guiding applications of theories he and other scientists developed. Years after he died, the manuscript for this book was discovered among his papers. The world of science has changed greatly since Wiener's day, and much of the change has been in the direction he warned against. Now published for the first time, this book can be read as a salutary corrective from the past and a chance to rethink the components of an environment that encourages inventiveness.Wiener provides an engagingly written insider's understanding of the history of discovery and invention, emphasizing the historical circumstances that foster innovations and allow their application. His message is that truly original ideas cannot be produced on an assembly line, and that their consequences are often felt only at distant times and places. The intellectual and technological environment has to be right before the idea can blossom. The best course for society is to encourage the best minds to pursue the most interesting topics, and to reward them for the insights they produce. Wiener's comments on the problem of secrecy and the importance of the "free-lance" scientist are particularly pertinent today.Steve Heims provides a brief history of Wiener's literary output and reviews his contributions to the field of invention and discovery. In addition, Heims suggests significant ways in which Wiener's ideas still apply to dilemmas facing the scientific and engineering communities of the 1990s.

(The book was written from lectures given at the Universit...)

The book was written from lectures given at the University of Cambridge and maintains throughout a high level of rigour whilst remaining a highly readable and lucid account. Topics covered include the Planchard theory of the existence of Fourier transforms of a function of L2 and Tauberian theorems. The influence of G. H. Hardy is apparent from the presence of an application of the theory to the prime number theorems of Hadamard and de la Vallee Poussin. Both pure and applied mathematicians will welcome the reissue of this classic work. For this reissue, Professor Kahane's Foreword briefly describes the genesis of Wiener's work and its later significance to harmonic analysis and Brownian motion.

Norbert Wiener was an American mathematician. He was Professor of Mathematics at MIT, an early researcher in stochastic and noise processes, contributing work relevant to electronic engineering, electronic communication, and control systems. He is regarded as the originator of cybernetics, a formalization of the notion of feedback, with many implications for engineering, systems control, computer science, biology, philosophy.

Background

Wiener was born in Columbia, Missouri, United States on November 26, 1894. He was the first child of Leo Wiener and Bertha Kahn. In his autobiography, Norbert described his father as calm and patient, unless he (Norbert) failed to give a correct answer, at which his father would lose his temper.

Education

Wiener was a child prodigy. Norbert's father educated him at home until 1903, employing teaching methods of his own invention. Earning his living teaching German and Slavic languages, Leo read widely and accumulated a personal library from which the young Norbert benefited greatly. Leo also had ample ability in mathematics and tutored his son in the subject until he left home.

Wiener finished his studies at the Ayer High School in 1906, when he was 11 years old and moved to the Tufts College (now the Tufts University). There Wiener received Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics in 1909. After that Wiener began his graduate studies of zoology at the Harvard University. In 1910 he entered the Cornell University to study philosophy. He received Doctor of Philosophy degree in Zoology from the Harvard University in 1912.

He received an honorary degree from Tufts in 1946.

Wiener moved to the United States in 1915, still unsure, despite his foreign travels, of the mathematical direction he wanted to pursue. He wrote articles for the Encyclopedia Americana and took a variety of teaching jobs until the entry of the United States into World War I. Wiener was a fervent patriot, and his enthusiasm led him to join the group of scientists and engineers at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, where he encountered Oswald Veblen, already one of the leading mathematicians in the country. Although Wiener did not pursue Veblen’s lines of research, Veblen’s success in producing results useful to the military impressed Wiener more than mere academic success.

After the war two events decisively shaped Wiener’s mathematical future. He obtained a position as instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in mathematics, where he was to remain until his retirement. At that time mathematics was not particularly strong at MIT, but his position there assured him of continued contact with engineers and physicists. As a result, he displayed an ongoing concern for the applications of mathematics to problems that could be stated in physical terms. The question of which tools he would bring to bear on those problems was answered by the death of his sister’s fiance. That promising young mathematician left his collection of books to Wiener, who began to read avidly the standard texts in a way that he had not in his earlier studies.

The first problem Wiener addressed had to do with Brownian motion, the apparently random motion of particles in substances at rest. The phenomenon had earlier excited Albert Einstein’s interest, and he had dealt with it in one of his 1905 papers. Wiener took the existence of Brownian motion as a sign of randomness at the heart of nature. By idealizing the physical phenomenon, Wiener was able to produce a mathematical theory of Brownian motion that had wide influence among students of probability. It is possible to see in his work on Brownian motion, steps in the direction of the study of fractals (shapes whose detail repeats itself on any scale), although Wiener did not go far along that path.

Wiener worked as a journalist at the Boston Herald from 1915 till 1916. During that same period of time he was an engineer at the General Electric.

The next subject Wiener addressed was the Dirichlet problem, which had been reintroduced into the mathematical mainstream by German David Hilbert. Much of the earliest work on the Dirichlet problem had been discredited as not being sufficiently rigorous for the standards of the late nineteenth century. Wiener’s work on the Dirichlet problem produced interesting results, some of which he delayed publishing for the sake of a couple of students Finishing their theses at Harvard. Wiener felt subsequently that his forbearance was not recognized adequately. In particular, although Wiener progressed through the academic ranks at MIT from assistant professor in 1924 to associate professor in 1929 to full professor in 1932, he believed that more support from Harvard would have enabled him to advance more quickly.

Wiener had a high opinion of his own abilities, something of a change from colleagues whose public expressions of modesty were at odds with a deep-seated conviction of their own merits. Whatever his talents as a mathematician, Wiener had expository standards that were at odds with those of most mathematicians of his time. While he was always exuberant, this was often at the cost of accuracy of detail. One of his main theorems depended on a series of lemmas, or auxiliary propositions, one of which was proven by assuming the truth of the main theorem. Students trying to learn from Wiener’s papers and finding their efforts unrewarding discovered that this reaction was almost universal.

During 1930s - beginning of 1940s, Wiener worked in a number of fields and wrote some of the papers with which he is most associated. In the field of harmonic analysis, he did a great deal with the decomposition of functions into series. Just as a polynomial is made up of terms like x, x2, x3, and so forth, so functions in general could be broken up in various ways, depending on the questions to be answered. Somewhat surprisingly, Wiener also undertook putting the operational calculus, earlier developed by Oliver Heaviside, on a rigorous basis. There is even a hint in Wiener’s work of the notion of a distribution, a kind of generalized function. It is not surprising that Wiener might start to move away from the kind of functions that had been most studied in mathematics toward those that could be useful in physics and engineering.

In 1926 Wiener returned to Europe, this time on a Guggenheim fellowship. He spent little time at Gottingen. Wiener came up with an imaginative new approach to Tauberian theorems and, perhaps more fortunately, with a coauthor for his longest paper on the subject. The quality of the exposition in the paper, combined with the originality of the results, make it Wiener’s best exercise in communicating technical mathematics, although he did not pursue the subject as energetically as he did some of his other works.

In 1931 and 1932 Wiener gave lectures on analysis in Cambridge as a deputy for G. H. Hardy. While there, he made the acquaintance of a young British mathematician, R. E. A. C. Paley, with whom a collaboration soon flourished. He brought Paley to MIT the next academic year and their work progressed rapidly. Among the other areas in which Wiener worked at MIT or Harvard were quantum mechanics, differential geometry, and statistical physics. His investigations in the last of these were wide-ranging, but amounted more to the creation of a research program than a body of results.

The arrival of World War II occupied Wiener’s attention in a number of ways. He was active on the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced German Scholars, which began operations well before the outbreak of fighting. He made proposals concerning the development of computers, although these were largely ignored. One of the problems to which he devoted time was antiaircraft fire, and his results were of great importance for engineering applications regarding filtering. Unfortunately, they were not of much use in the field because of the amount of time required for the calculations.

Weiner devoted the last decades of his life to the study of statistics, engineering, and biology. He had already worked on the general idea of information theory, which arose out of statistical mechanics. The idea of entropy had been around since the nineteenth century and enters into the second law of thermodynamics. It could be defined as an integral, but it was less clear what sort of quantity it was.

An interdisciplinary seminar at the Harvard Medical School provided a push for Wiener in the direction of the interplay between biology and physics. He learned about the complexity of feedback in animals and studied current ideas about neurophysiology from a mathematical point of view. (Wiener left out the names of those who had most influenced him in this area in his autobiography as a result of an argument.) One area of particular interest was prosthetic limbs, perhaps as a result of breaking his arm in a fall. Wiener soon had the picture of a computer as a pros-thesis for the brain. In 1947 he agreed to write a book on communication and control and was looking for a term for the theory of messages. The Greek word for messenger, angelos, had too many connections with angels to be useful, so he took the word for helmsman, kubernes, instead and came up with cybernetics.

It turned out that the word had been used in the previous century, but Wiener gave it a new range of meaning and currency.

Cybernetics was treated by Wiener as a branch of mathematics with its own terms, like signal, noise, and information. One of his collaborators in this area was John von Neumann, whose work on computers had been followed up much more enthusiastically than Wiener’s.

Among his more popular books were The Human Use of Human Beings in 1950 and God and Golem, Inc.: A Comment on Certain Points Where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion in 1964.

In general, Wiener was happy writing for a wide variety of journals and audiences. He contributed to the Atlantic, Nation, the New Republic, and Collier’s, among others. His two volumes of autobiography, Ex-Prodigy and I Am a Mathematician, came out in 1953 and 1956, respectively. Reviews pointed out the extent to which Wiener’s memory operated selectively, but also admitted that he did bring the mathematical community to life in a way seldom seen. Although Wiener remarked that mathematics was a young man’s game, he also indicated that he felt himself lucky in having selected subjects for investigation that he could pursue later in life.

Despite being raised in a Jewish family, Wiener later became an agnostic.

Membership

Wiener was named a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences.

Personality

Wiener liked life in the country and hiking. This is why he spent the summer months in "Tamarack Cottage", in the little village of South Tamworth near Sandwich (New Hampshire). He also appreciated there the tranquility of the attic in which he used to work at a blackboard.

Connections

In 1926 Wiener married Margaret Engemann, an assistant professor of modern languages at Juniata College. They had two daughters, Barbara (born 1928) and Peggy (born 1929). Wiener enjoyed his family’s company and found there a relaxation from a mathematical community that did not always share his opinion of the merits of his work.