Reciprocal entrainment between two or more oscillators with, in addition, exact lock-step of phase. (Adapted from S. STROGATZ and I. STEWART, 1993).
Synchronization is one of the most basic needs for securing and maintaining coherence in systems.
Synchronization corresponds to the emergence of an attractor between the various periodic movements of distinct oscillators that become coupled. The attractor is normally cyclical.
A.T. WINFREE discovered that, in a system comprising many oscillators: "… the system's behavior depends on the width of the frequency distribution. If the spread of frequencies is large compared with the coupling, the system always lapses into incoherence, just as if it were no coupling at all. As the spread decreases below a critical value, part of the system spontaneously "freezes" into synchrony" (STROGATZ & STEWART, 1993, p.73).
These authors add: "Synchronization emerges cooperatively. If a few oscillators happen to synchronize, their combined, coherent signal rises above the background din, exerting a strong effect on the others" (Ibid).
This is an effect quite comparable to percolation in composite systems (and possibly the key for explaining how composite systems may become more coherent, i.e.integrated.
Moreover: "When additional oscillators are pulled into the synchronized nucleus, they amplify its signal. This positive feedback leads to an acceleration outbreak of synchrony". However: "Some oscillators nonetheless remain unsynchronized because their frequencies are too far from the value at which the others have synchronized for the coupling to pull them in" (Ibid, p.74).
According to WINFREE (as quoted by STROGATZ and STEWART): "… mutual synchronization is strikingly analogous to a phase transition such as the freezing of water or the spontaneous magnetization of a ferromagnet. The width of the oscillators' frequency distribution plays the same role as does temperature and the alignment of oscillator phases in time is the counterpart of an alignment of molecules or electronic spins in space" (Ibid).
This is a significant new link between physics and biology. It confirms the status of synchronization as a General Systems model and even is a new example of the wide reach of some systemic-cybernetic models.
The role of time in the biological synchronization is also to be remarked. (KORZYBSKI's time-binding).
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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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