Control Theory history

[From Bill Powers (2011.02.03.0900 MST);

Rick Marken (2011.02.03.0725) –

Gavin Ritz
(2011.02.03.15.30NZT)

I was really taken aback last night reading an old classic by John R
Pierce

of Communication Theory fame.

On page 85 of Man’s World of Sound (1958 version Doubleday
Publications) he

clearly shows how a control system will work in the nervous system,
brain

(with reference signal and comparator) with respect to speech and
sound, now

this is hardly a theory he puts forward, but it is the first time I
have

seen this diagrammatic concept outside PCT.

I’d like to see that. Could you scan it and post it or point to
where

we can see it on the net.

Those interested: try Googling on “Elkind and control theory.”
You’ll get a Google book on the history of engineering psychology,
showing what was going on in the 1950s at the same time I was working
with Clark and MacFarland to develop a “feedback theory” of
behavior. Behind it all, of course, are the control-system engineers of
the 1930s and 1940s from whom both the engineering psychologists and I
got most of our ideas (including terminology like reference signal and
error signal).


http://www.hfes.org/web/pubpages/adolescence.pdf

Taylor and Birmingham in particular, though widely quoted, failed to see
the whole control system inside the person. Instead, they depicted the
“human operator” as a simple stimulus-response system embedded
in a feedback loop.


http://books.google.com/books?id=7omZDULZyCQC
(see
chapter 20)

I’ve done some screen-shots from the B & T paper to show where
engineering psychology was in 1954, the year after I went to the V. A.
Research Hospital where R. K. Clark and I were to start up a new medical
physics department and I was supposedly to get half of my time to devote
to control theory. I think it was B & T who gave psychology an excuse
for not altering the basic concept of human organization implicit in
control theory.

My ideas diverged from those of leaders in engineering psychology like
Taylor and Birmingham at the Naval Research Laboratory and others at
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. So I was swimming against the tide
almost from the start. B & T saw man as just one component, an
“error detector,” in a control system – a stimulus-response
system. Wiener had gone a little farther than that, but not a lot. He
still saw the control system as an input-output system, with a little
feedback thrown in. Anyway, here it is – you’ll see how B & T were
working against us in the second paragraph:

ace181.jpg

ace1d0.jpg

ace20e.jpg

ace2ba.jpg

So it goes, to commemorate that connoisseur of human-made disasters, Kurt
Vonnegut.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Rick Marken (2011.02.03.1900)

Bill Powers (2011.02.03.0900 MST)–

Those interested: try Googling on “Elkind and control theory.”…

Thanks. I already knew this pretty well but it’s nice to be reminded.

Best

Rick (from my still intact Mac)

···

Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

(Gavin Ritz 2011.02.04.16.32NZT)

[From Bill Powers (2011.02.03.0900 MST);
Rick Marken (2011.02.03.0725) –
Gavin Ritz (2011.02.03.15.30NZT)

Thanks for that Bill.

I see what you mean in the T & B
article clearly the focus on S-R.

The Pierce diagram shows clearly the
control system inside the brain and Pierce goes on to say its inside, he talked
a lot about psychophysics and I looked around last night and Weber and Fechner
seemed to be the originators of psychophysics but psychophysics clearly goes on
into latter times with and S-R models.

Pierce was no slouch, a leader in his field for decades and great friends
with Claude and Betty Shannon, I wonder where he got those ideas from about the control system
inside the brain?

Kind regards

Gavin

I was really taken aback last night reading an old classic by John
R Pierce
of Communication Theory fame.

On page 85 of Man’s World of Sound (1958 version Doubleday
Publications) he
clearly shows how a control system will work in the nervous system, brain
(with reference signal and comparator) with respect to speech and sound,
now
this is hardly a theory he puts forward, but it is the first time I have
seen this diagrammatic concept outside PCT.

I’d like to see that. Could you scan it and post it or point to where
we can see it on the net.

Those interested: try Googling on “Elkind and control theory.” You’ll
get a Google book on the history of engineering psychology, showing what was
going on in the 1950s at the same time I was working with Clark and MacFarland
to develop a “feedback theory” of behavior. Behind it all, of course,
are the control-system engineers of the 1930s and 1940s from whom both the
engineering psychologists and I got most of our ideas (including terminology
like reference signal and error signal).

http://www.hfes.org/web/pubpages/adolescence.pdf

Taylor and Birmingham in particular, though widely quoted, failed to see the
whole control system inside the person. Instead, they depicted the “human
operator” as a simple stimulus-response system embedded in a feedback
loop.

http://books.google.com/books?id=7omZDULZyCQC
(see chapter 20)

I’ve done some screen-shots from the B & T paper to show where engineering
psychology was in 1954, the year after I went to the V. A. Research Hospital
where R. K. Clark and I were to start up a new medical physics department and I
was supposedly to get half of my time to devote to control theory. I think it
was B & T who gave psychology an excuse for not altering the basic concept
of human organization implicit in control theory.

My ideas diverged from those of leaders in engineering psychology like Taylor
and Birmingham at the Naval Research Laboratory and others at Wright-Patterson
Air Force Base. So I was swimming against the tide almost from the start. B
& T saw man as just one component, an “error detector,” in a
control system – a stimulus-response system. Wiener had gone a little farther
than that, but not a lot. He still saw the control system as an input-output
system, with a little feedback thrown in. Anyway, here it is – you’ll see how
B & T were working against us in the second paragraph:

ace181.jpg

ace1d0.jpg

ace20e.jpg

ace2ba.jpg

So it goes, to commemorate that connoisseur of human-made disasters, Kurt
Vonnegut.

Best,

Bill P.