A mechanism of circular self-reproduction of components and/or relationships in a system.
Or: The cyclical creation or recreation of elements or interrelations in a system through the application to existing elements or interrelations of a specified feedback or set of feedbacks.
The feedbacks are specified within the system from its very autogenesis on, through organizational closure, of which recursion is practically the signature.
An example is fractal branching.
Recursion can in principle be applied on its own results without limits.
F. FRISCHKNECHT and J.P.van GIGCH observe: "Recursion is a finite prescription of an infinite process" (1989, p.243), and: "Nonlinear feedback (i.e. recursion) is the novelty that burst into physics challenging its old axiomatic models. Recursion replaced mathematical axiomatization by constructivism, state by process, models by metamodels" (p.249). The same authors state the very important conclusion that these metamodels "… only furnish second-order knowledge, they do not predict, they just simulate. This is the only way to understand complexity: to know its rules, the states being unpredictable" (Ibid).
"Unpredictable" should be possibly better replaced by "only imprecisely predictable", as chaotic randomness is still basically deterministic.
Recursion is an essential feature of the autopoiesis theory. Organizational closure, i.e. the permanent self-reconstruction by a system is entirely dependent on recursion. This is seemingly also true in the psychology of identity, in psycho-pathology and in social and cultural systems.
Recursion seems to operate only within networks (which necessarily possess rules of self-organization and self-reproduction).
A formal calculus of recursive self-reference has been developed by G. SPENCER BROWN (1969) and extended by F. VARELA (1975).
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Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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