Publication 2060

Goguen J. A. & Varela F. J. (1979) Systems and distinctions: Duality and complementarity. International Journal of General Systems 5(1): 31–43.
This paper presents a framework within which a number of preferred system descriptions can be unified. Of particular interest are the differences stemming from the study of natural systems (biological and social) and man-made systems (engineering and computer). It is claimed that the insights from She study of natural systems have been developed less extensively and precisely. One important case discussed here is the relationship between describing a system as autonomous or as controlled. A precise characterization of complementarity in descriptions is proposed through the notion of adjoint functor, to explicate the interplay of these dual views. Other descriptive dualities of similar kind are discussed, the complementarity between nets and trees is presented in full detail.
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