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This book presents a new understanding on how control systems truly operate, and explains how to recognize, simulate, and improve control systems in all fields of activity. It also reveals the pervasive, ubiquitous and indispensable role of control processes in our life and the need to develop a “control-oriented thinking”—based on uncomplicated but effective models derived from systems thinking—that is, a true “discipline of control.” Over the book’s thirteen chapters, Piero Mella shows that there are simple control systems (rather than complex ones) that can easily help us to manage complexity without drawing upon more sophisticated control systems.

It begins by reviewing the basic language of systems thinking and the models it allows users to create. It then introduces the control process, presenting the theoretical structure of three simple control systems we all can observe in order to gain fundamental knowledge from them about the basic structure of a control system. Then, it presents the anatomy of the simplest “magic ring” and the general theoretical model of any control system. This is followed by an introduction to a general typology of control systems and a broader view of control systems by investigating multi-lever control systems and multi-objective systems.

The book undertakes the concepts through various environments, increasingly broader in scope to suggest to readers how to recognize therein control systems manifestations in everyday life and in natural phenomena. Updated for the 2nd edition, new chapters explore control systems regulating the biological environment and the organizations, with an in-depth study of the control of quality, productivity, production, stocks and costs. Finally, it concludes by dealing with the learning process, problem-solving, and designing the logical structure of control systems.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Discovering the “Ring”

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. The Language of Systems Thinking for Control Systems

Abstract
We are about to begin a wonderful trip in the world of control systems, which are all around us. We are not used to seeing them, but their presence is indispensable for the existence of the world and of life. We need to gradually understand how they really operate in order to recognize, simulate, and improve them. The reader should know that this is not a mathematics, engineering, physics, biology, economics, or sociology book. I have chosen to present the logic of control systems using the simple but powerful and clear language of systems thinking for interpreting the world as a system of dynamic systems of interconnected and interacting variables.
Piero Mella

Chapter 2. The Ring: The General Structure of Control Systems

Abstract
Chapter 1 presented the principles of systems thinking along with the rules and formal language, and this discipline uses to represent dynamic systems. This chapter deals with the feedback control problem as a general form of efficient control. By adopting the systems thinking language we shall construct the general logical model of a closed-loop control system, the “Ring,” which allows the process control to take place (Sects. 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 2.7, and 2.8). This approach allows us to develop a true “art” of control—a discipline based on systems thinking logic that enables us to observe, understand, and modify the world and our future. I shall define the logical and the technical structure of the Ring along with the recursive equations that determine its dynamics.
Piero Mella

Chapter 3. The Ring Variety: A Basic Typology

Abstract
Chapter 2 presented the logic of control systems and described the technical structure that produces the general logical structure. I have thought it useful to begin with the simplest control systems, single-objective (a single Y and single Y*) and single-lever (a single X) ones, in which the action function determining the dynamics of the variables (g and h) are represented as simple constants. This chapter presents several fundamental classes of control systems, among which are natural and artificial systems, manual or automatic cybernetic systems, quantitative and qualitative systems, and attainment and recognition systems. Finally, I shall consider various forms of interconnections among control systems and the holarchies of control systems.
Piero Mella

Chapter 4. The Ring Completed: Multilever and Multiobjective Control Systems

Abstract
Chapter 2 presented the general notion of a single-lever control system, illustrating the logical and technical structures of such a system. In addition, Chap. 3 proposed several important types of control systems that, though dissimilar in appearance, satisfy the definition and general logic of single-lever control systems. This chapter presents a broader view of control systems by introducing two important generalizations: (1) multilever control systems and (2) multiobjective control systems. Multilever control systems can have dependent or independent levers. Multiobjective control systems can be apparent or effective. Specifying the control strategies requires introducing the concept of cost–benefit analysis applied to the various levers. Specifying the control policies brings up the notion of scale of priorities regarding the various objectives.
Piero Mella

Chapter 5. The Ring: Observation and Design

Abstract
In this chapter, I shall outline the guidelines for recognizing, observing, or designing control systems and the problems that arise regarding their logical realization. I shall introduce the fundamental distinction between symptomatic and structural control. I shall then examine the concepts of the efficiency and effectiveness of control systems and the various techniques for increasing the effectiveness of control through the use of internal and external interventions to strengthen the system. A review of the various possible risks of failure of the control process due to structural causes will then be presented. The last part of the chapter considers the human aspects of control, which involves several ontological aspects of control: discouragement, insatiability, persistence, and underestimation. The chapter concludes by presenting the logic behind the decision-making process.
Piero Mella

The Magic of the Ring

Frontmatter

Chapter 6. The Magic Ring in Action: Individuals

Abstract
Part 1 presented the theory of control systems. A control system can be thought of as a Ring that rotates several times to guide the variables [Y], toward the assigned objectives [Y*], through the control levers [X]. The first five chapters produced, so to speak, the anatomy of Rings, presenting their logical structure, their modus operandi, the main types, and the risks of failure in the control. In Part 2 we now move on to the discipline of Control, that is, training ourselves to observe, recognize, model, and simulate the action of the Rings in every micro and macro “environment” where they carry out their regulating function. In this chapter, we shall try to recognize control systems in the domestic and civic environment.
Piero Mella

Chapter 7. The Magic Ring in Action: Social Environment and Sustainability

Abstract
In Chap. 6, we headed off on an ideal journey to learn to recognize and model the action of multiple Rings operating in various environments. I hope the reader has become aware that without the action of the Rings, without their ubiquitous magic presence everywhere in a world made up of interconnected variables, life, order, and progress could not exist. The aim of this chapter is to guide the reader as he continues this journey through the world of human populations that interact to self-control their dynamics, and as he subsequently moves on to the action of the Rings in our ecosystems.
Piero Mella

Chapter 8. The Magic Ring in Action: The Biological Environment

Abstract
This chapter deals with the vast topic of population dynamics and control both from a quantitative view, the change in the number of individuals in a population, and a qualitative one, the variation or change in the phenotypes in evolutionary processes. Taking as a basis the Volterra–Lotka equations, Excel and Powersim (Powersim Software. 2018. http://www.powersim.com) simulations are presented for specific examples. The concept of “external” or “exogenous” control is also introduced, which is carried out by man through interventions aimed at increasing or reducing the size of one or more interconnected populations. Also considered is the evolution of populations of non-biological entities, particularly, those of robots and organizations that form the nodes of production networks.
Piero Mella

Chapter 9. The Magic Ring in Action: Organizations

Abstract
Control systems also operate in production or consumption organizations which are unitary systems where the control is pervasive and essential. In particular, all production organizations are able to carry out their activities and survive over a long period of time precisely because they are preordained to undertake a constant control of the coordination of individuals and organs, the macro process they carry out as a single entity, and the network of micro processes of their organs. In this chapter, I shall examine organizations from five points of view: (1) as autopoietic and teleonomic systems, (2) as vital systems, (3) as systems for efficient transformation, (4) as systems subject to management control, both entrepreneurial strategic and managerial operational, and, finally, (5) as cognitive and explorative systems. Several instruments of control, such as budgeting and cost control, will be presented.
Piero Mella

Chapter 10. The Magic Ring in Action Explores Quality and Productivity

Abstract
The discipline of control entails observing reality by filtering it through the models produced by the simple theory of control discussed in Part I of this book. Chapter 6 took the point of view of the individual observing the environment in which he or she lives; Chapter 7 examined the Rings that operate in social systems, combinatory systems, and complex adaptive systems; Chapter 8 considered various forms of control operating within the Macro Biological Environment; and Chap. 9 demonstrated how control systems operate in production or consumption organizations which are unitary systems where the control is pervasive and essential. This chapter presents the Rings which control the two fundamental variables—quality and productivity—that are vital for both organizations and the global economic system. I have also proposed the Law of Increasing Productivity and Quality: every individual, local, national, or global production system develops increasing productivity and higher levels of product quality over time.
Piero Mella

Chapter 11. The Magic Ring in Action: Control of Production and Stocks

Abstract
The control of the warehouse and production processes, typical forms of management control aimed at the processes of production and economic transformation (TR1-P and TR2–3) described in Sect. 9.​3, is also indispensable for the formation of the production and purchasing budget since the quantities to be produced and purchased in a given period depend on the planned stock of materials and products at the end of the budget period. A number of calculation models have been developed for warehouse and production control. Some simple models assume knowledge of the amount of demand for stocked goods; others, more sophisticated, assume that demand is known only in terms of the distribution of probabilities. The logic of warehouse control will be presented, including the calculation of the optimal purchasing and production batches even under the assumption of production constraints. An examination of the logic of the “global” control methods will follow: MRP, JIT, OPT, concluding with FMS and HMS. The final part of the chapter addresses the problem of project control by examining PERT/CPM and ALTAI not only as network programming techniques but also as optimization and control tools.
Piero Mella

Chapter 12. The Magic Ring Explores Cognition and Learning

Abstract
This chapter concludes the journey we have undertaken by examining Control Systems that make learning and knowledge possible. I have limited the examination to those Rings needed for the conscious “mind” to function, deliberately choosing as a guide Gregory Bateson’s model of the “mind” as a calculator of various levels of differences, presenting a model of how knowledge is formed through the perception and systematization of differences. I have therefore examined the problem of the formation of signs and the use of language to reveal and communicate knowledge. The reader is invited to read the initial sentences in Sect. 12.1, in which I point out the difficulties in dealing with the topic of knowledge by using mainly the sense of sight and employing a written language.
Piero Mella

Chapter 13. Concluding Remarks: Toward a General Discipline of Control

Abstract
Understanding the theory of control systems is necessary to attain a true “control discipline”. To introduce this “discipline”, Part II guides the reader on an ideal journey in learning to recognize and model the action of multiple Rings which are observed, or even only imagined, to be operating in various environments. This chapter concludes the journey and presents some final considerations to stimulate further reflection. In the first section below, I shall attempt to outline several fundamental general hypotheses in order to propose a “control discipline.” In the second section, I touch on the human aspects of control. A reflection on the content and limits of this study is presented as FAQs in the final pages of the chapter.
Piero Mella

Backmatter

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