International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics

2nd Edition, as published by Charles François 2004 Presented by the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science Vienna for public access.


The International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics was first edited and published by the system scientist Charles François in 1997. The online version that is provided here was based on the 2nd edition in 2004. It was uploaded and gifted to the center by ASC president Michael Lissack in 2019; the BCSSS purchased the rights for the re-publication of this volume in 200?. In 2018, the original editor expressed his wish to pass on the stewardship over the maintenance and further development of the encyclopedia to the Bertalanffy Center. In the future, the BCSSS seeks to further develop the encyclopedia by open collaboration within the systems sciences. Until the center has found and been able to implement an adequate technical solution for this, the static website is made accessible for the benefit of public scholarship and education.



1. "A set of transitions, on a set of operands" (W.R. ASHBY, 1958, p.10).

This is the most abstract formulation of this concept in cybernetic terms. The "set of transitions" supposes the existence of a code, that can be represented as a transformation table (p.11), a transition matrix, a causal network. or a graph.

The observed transformation can be for example: one to one; one to many; many to one; or some more elaborately defined one. The basic idea is to define the way of pairing in general. For details see ASHBY (Ibid).

Another important feature of transformations is that they can operate as a closed (i.e. cyclical), or an open set.

hereafter: "Transformation (Principle of non-proportional)"; "Translation rule".

2."The process by which an input is changed into an output." (B. BANATHY, 1973, p.90).

BANATHY elaborates in the following way:

"Transformation control and adjustment are operations whereby transformation is monitored. The information gathered through monitoring is analyzed and interpreted in order to introduce adjustments by which to improve transformation.

"Transformation facilitation is a set of operations aimed at the continuous energizing and maintenance of all components that participate in transformation" (Ibid.). (A good example is catalysis, in its most generalized sense).

"Transformation processing refers to such operations as transformation, production, systemization, facilitation and control.

"Transformation production is a set of operations in which the subject (i.e. the component or part we are interested in, or observing) of the system and other system components are engaged, interact, and use resources in order to accomplish the purposed transformation (of the subject…) and thus achieve the goal of the system" (1973, p.90).

This last paragraph is redacted in a somewhat partialized way because BANATHY refers himself specifically to the student as the subject, i.e. learning component in an educational or training system.

By subject, BANATHY also more generally means "… the entity around which the system is organised and which has to be transformed by the system… " (Ibid). Examples of such a subject could be a school, or a club or any other organization to be transformed by all its participants.

"Transformation model is a conceptual representation of operations by which the input is changed into output." (Ibid.)

3. Within a system, the operation or process by which an input is changed into an output.

In J. MILLER's taxonomy of living systems, this process is shared among the following subsystems:

a) processing of matter or energy: Distributor, Converter, Producer;

b) processing of information: Internal transducer, Channel and net, Decoder, Associator, Encoder.(1992, p4).

TRANSFORMATION (Baker)2: See "BAKER's transformation".


  • 1) General information
  • 2) Methodology or model
  • 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
  • 4) Human sciences
  • 5) Discipline oriented


Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science(2020).

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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