The point on a curve of behavior where a systems function crosses the limit of its dynamic stability regime.
Below this limit the system's behavior is not fundamentally affected by excessive stimulations. Most generally, the various functions within a system are oscillating around a standard value. In such a case "… all states are equilibrial when some parameter function is less than a certain value, and few or none are equilibrial when it exceeds that value" (W.R. ASHBY, 1960, p.168).
The crossing of a stability threshold may either destroy the system, or transform it beyond recognition, within a process of emergence, and towards a different and frequently more complex level of organization.
A slightly different understanding of the threshold is "the minimum-required stimulation" to trigger a change in the organization of a network (J.von NEUMANN, 1958, p. 55).
In unstable composite systems or networks, a threshold defines the minimum constraint that must be applied in order to break the networks structure and start a global flow or an avalanche in the network, which may also lead to a reordering of its structure. Close to such a constraint threshold, a very small disturbance can start a considerable change.
In any case, the crossing of a threshold implies a discontinuity and a qualitative change. A threshold is a "point of no return" to the original conditions.
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To cite this page, please use the following information:
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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