Cybernetics is named after its founder Norbert Wiener, the science of control and regulation of machines, living organisms and social organizations and has also been described with the formula "the art of controlling ". The term as such was taken mid-20th century, following the example of the English cybernetics ( " control techniques " ) in the German language. The English term, in turn, is a portmanteau formed from the Greek adjective substantivized κυβερνητικός ( " steuermännisch "), which is κυβερνήτης from the corresponding subjective ( " helmsman " ) and κυβέρνησις (" line rule " ) is derived.

A typical example of the principle of a cybernetic system is a thermostat. Comparing the actual value with a desired value of a thermometer, which was set as the desired temperature. One difference between these two values ​​causes the controller in the thermostat to regulate the heating so that the actual value approximates the setpoint.

  • 5.1 Classical Literature
  • 5.2 Current Literature

History and Development



  • Around 1945: cybernetics ( Norbert Wiener), connectionism (WS McCulloch, W. Pitts and others) and information theory ( Shannon CE )
  • 1946-1953: Macy Conferences on Cybernetics


See also Chronology of systems theory


Since ancient times, we find written records system-oriented thinking. The Greek Ependichter Homer wrote κυβερνήτης, referring to the helmsman of a ship. Plato used the term figuratively, when he spoke of a " man at the helm of government." The Apostle Paul, in turn, uses the Greek term kybérnēsis in 1 Corinthians (1 Cor 12:28 EU ) to the "ability to lead " to address. 1834 developed the idea of a science of physicist André- Marie Ampère, which he called " cybernétique ".

Subject since the 1940s

In the 1940s, the roots of science emerged Cybernetics than you similarities and interfaces between different individual disciplines that consider issues such as human behavior, communication, control, decision and game theory and statistical mechanics realized. Catalyst of this development were the Macy Conferences on the theme "Circular causal, and feedback mechanisms in biological and social systems" that took place from 1946 to 1953. Norbert Wiener coined the term cybernetics finally discharged in the summer of 1947 by the Greek kybernetes for " helmsman " and thus the first in his opinion important article about a feedback mechanism by James Clerk Maxwell (On Governors 1867 /68) honored; there is described a centrifugal governor. The English word ' governor ' is derived from the Latin, Gubernator ' from ( Helm ), a Latin loan word from the ancient Greek language with the same root word as kybernetes.

(: Communication and control in the animal and the machine Cybernetics German edition. ) Used in printed form, the term of Vienna for the first time in 1948 in Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine was. In the same year a fundamental review article published in the journal Scientific American for cybernetics.

Georg Klaus established in 1953 in the discipline Cybernetics at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Later he was involved in starting your own Cybernetics Commission at the Academy of Sciences.

Conferences and Chairs

Decisive for the development of the subject area in the U.S., edited by Heinz von Foerster from the 1950 Conference Proceedings " Cybernetics " of the Macy Conferences of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation were ( Macy Foundation). Further developments after the Macy conferences are shown ( see chart at right ) from the history of the application fields.

The founder of Cybernetics in Germany Hermann Schmidt, who was this thought at the same time and independently of Norbert Wiener developed and called 1944 the first Chair of Automatic Control in Germany at the Technische Hochschule Berlin -Charlottenburg. In Germany, " The Consciousness of Machines - A metaphysics of cybernetics " was also in 1957, before the same scientific historical background, the study of the philosopher Gotthard Günther published. Furthermore, in 1961 the book was published " Cybernetics in philosophical point of view " of the mathematician and philosopher Georg Klaus, which reached four editions until 1964. From this author nor followed several books on cybernetics in their social and intellectual impact. Among the popular science books are in particular the publications of Karl Steinbuch mentioned, which in 1957 coined the term computer science. This term describes a more formalistic and technical orientation, in contrast to cybernetics.

Recent Developments

Today it deals with classical objects of cybernetics differentiated:

  • In the technical field, for example, in control engineering and control theory under the heading Technical Cybernetics,
  • In the humanities under the name Systemik or second-order cybernetics,
  • In the social sciences under management cybernetics or Socio- cybernetics and
  • In the life sciences under biocybernetics.
  • In building the Baukybernetik.

An even philosophical interest in cybernetics stems from the fact that this opens up the possibility of understanding the term "purpose" recursively: The purpose of a complex system, such as also a living being, is it considered itself would need a purpose not separate from the system instance more, which puts him.

In the context of control engineering today is a special powerful mathematical system theory available with which the behavior of systems and control loops can be described and calculated. In network theory, in turn networked interactive system will search for general principles. The decision and game theory that deal with decision-making in some complex situations of multi-dimensional target spaces, gaining an increasingly important role, especially in medical, military and economy.

More recent examples of the application of cybernetics in the social sciences are the concepts of Volition in psychology and management.

Significant core concepts of cybernetics are:

  • System (open and closed systems )
  • Feedback (or feedback)
  • Self-regulation
  • Homeostasis
  • Dynamic equilibrium (or steady state )
  • Adaptation (or adjustment ) or adaptive control
  • Triggering taxes
  • Actual value and setpoint
  • Receptor and effector
  • Self-organization
  • Autopoiesis
  • Variety

Special Cybernetics / Applications

  • Robotics
  • Mechatronics
  • Biomechatronics
  • Automation Technology
  • Technical Cybernetics
  • Biological Cybernetics
  • Medical Cybernetics
  • Biomedical Cybernetics
  • Cybernetic Anthropology
  • Socio- Cybernetics
  • Management Cybernetics