# The Test for Control (TC)

In our world of PCT is a concept known as “The Test for the Controlled Variable (TCV).” I’d like to propose another, simpler test: “The Test for Control” (TC).

Here’s how TC works: If you want to know if you can control something, simply ask, “Can I make it do what I want?” If the answer is yes, you can control it. If the answer is no, you can’t control it.

If you were to ask me if I can control the warmth of the room, I would say yes because I can make the warmth of the room go up or down, get warmer or cooler. How much warmer or cooler depends on my sense or perception of the warmth of the room (or my wife’s, as the case might be) and how much warmer or cooler I want it.

If you were to ask me if I can make the room temperature match a specific value (say 72 degrees), I would say no. All I can do is set the thermostat to 72 degrees and hope it’s accurate. So, if you were to ask me if I can control the precise temperature of the room, I would say No because I can’t make it match a specific temperature. All I know of the specific temperature of the room (as measured in degrees Fahrenheit), is what the thermostat tells me.

To sum up, the Test for Control (TC) amounts to asking yourself if you can make something do what you want. If you can, you can control it. If you can’t, you don’t.

Regards,

Fred Nickols

Managing Partner

Distance Consulting LLC

“Assistance at a Distance”

[From Fred Nickols (2018.05.22.1005 ET)]

Oops. I forgot to put a time-date stamp on the message below. It should have read [From Fred Nickols (2018.05.22.0954 ET)]

···

From: “Fred Nickols” (fred@nickols.us via csgnet Mailing List) csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 9:54 AM
To: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: The Test for Control (TC)

In our world of PCT is a concept known as “The Test for the Controlled Variable (TCV).” I’d like to propose another, simpler test: “The Test for Control” (TC).

Here’s how TC works: If you want to know if you can control something, simply ask, “Can I make it do what I want?” If the answer is yes, you can control it. If the answer is no, you can’t control it.

If you were to ask me if I can control the warmth of the room, I would say yes because I can make the warmth of the room go up or down, get warmer or cooler. How much warmer or cooler depends on my sense or perception of the warmth of the room (or my wife’s, as the case might be) and how much warmer or cooler I want it.

If you were to ask me if I can make the room temperature match a specific value (say 72 degrees), I would say no. All I can do is set the thermostat to 72 degrees and hope it’s accurate. So, if you were to ask me if I can control the precise temperature of the room, I would say No because I can’t make it match a specific temperature. All I know of the specific temperature of the room (as measured in degrees Fahrenheit), is what the thermostat tells me.

To sum up, the Test for Control (TC) amounts to asking yourself if you can make something do what you want. If you can, you can control it. If you can’t, you don’t.

Regards,

Fred Nickols

Managing Partner

Distance Consulting LLC

“Assistance at a Distance”

[Martin Taylor 2018.05.22.10.55]

``````Fred, does your test mean "Can I make it do exactly what I want",
``````

“Can I make it do something close to what I want”, Can I make it do
something more like what I want than it is now doing", or something
else? It often makes a difference to whether the answer is “yes” or “no”.
Indeed, the first question can never be answered “Yes” except for
discrete variables such as categories and logical relationships or
programs. Your example of temperature control suggests you are
thinking of the third question rather than the first or second.
Martin

···

[From Fred Nickols (2018.05.22.0954
ET)]

``````      In our world of PCT is a concept known as
``````

“The Test for the Controlled Variable (TCV).” I’d like to
propose another, simpler test: “The Test for Control” (TC).

``````      Here’s how TC works: If you want to know if
``````

you can control something, simply ask, “Can I make it do what
I want?” If the answer is yes, you can control it. If the
answer is no, you can’t control it.

``````      If you were to ask me if I can control the
``````

warmth of the room, I would say yes because I can make the
warmth of the room go up or down, get warmer or cooler. How
much warmer or cooler depends on my sense or perception of the
warmth of the room (or my wife’s, as the case might be) and
how much warmer or cooler I want it.

``````      If you were to ask me if I can make the
``````

room temperature match a specific value (say 72 degrees), I
would say no. All I can do is set the thermostat to 72
degrees and hope it’s accurate. So, if you were to ask me if
I can control the precise temperature of the room, I would say
No because I can’t make it match a specific temperature. All
I know of the specific temperature of the room (as measured in
degrees Fahrenheit), is what the thermostat tells me.

``````      To sum up, the Test for Control (TC)
``````

amounts to asking yourself if you can make something do what
you want. If you can, you can control it. If you can’t, you
don’t.

Regards,

Fred Nickols

``````        Managing
``````

Partner

Distance Consulting LLC

• ``````         “Assistance
``````

at a Distance”*

[From Fred Nickols (2018.05.22.1132 ET)]

I thought about those questions, too, Martin. I think we’re talking about different degrees of control. My wife’s notion of a roast in the oven being “done” is if she sticks a thermometer in it and gets a reading of at least some specified value. On occasion, she’s said, “Close enough” or “it’s done” or “it’s a little over done.” I just now asked her if she can control how done a roast gets. She said, “Well, I’d like to think I can.”

Where I’m heading with this is trying to connect commonplace notions of control with the PCT view of it.

Fred

···

From: Martin Taylor (mmt-csg@mmtaylor.net via csgnet Mailing List) csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 10:56 AM
To: csgnet@lists.illinois.edu
Subject: Re: The Test for Control (TC)

[Martin Taylor 2018.05.22.10.55]

[From Fred Nickols (2018.05.22.0954 ET)]

In our world of PCT is a concept known as “The Test for the Controlled Variable (TCV).” I’d like to propose another, simpler test: “The Test for Control” (TC).

Here’s how TC works: If you want to know if you can control something, simply ask, “Can I make it do what I want?” If the answer is yes, you can control it. If the answer is no, you can’t control it.

Fred, does your test mean “Can I make it do exactly what I want”, “Can I make it do something close to what I want”, Can I make it do something more like what I want than it is now doing", or something else?

It often makes a difference to whether the answer is “yes” or “no”. Indeed, the first question can never be answered “Yes” except for discrete variables such as categories and logical relationships or programs. Your example of temperature control suggests you are thinking of the third question rather than the first or second.

Martin

If you were to ask me if I can control the warmth of the room, I would say yes because I can make the warmth of the room go up or down, get warmer or cooler. How much warmer or cooler depends on my sense or perception of the warmth of the room (or my wife’s, as the case might be) and how much warmer or cooler I want it.

If you were to ask me if I can make the room temperature match a specific value (say 72 degrees), I would say no. All I can do is set the thermostat to 72 degrees and hope it’s accurate. So, if you were to ask me if I can control the precise temperature of the room, I would say No because I can’t make it match a specific temperature. All I know of the specific temperature of the room (as measured in degrees Fahrenheit), is what the thermostat tells me.

To sum up, the Test for Control (TC) amounts to asking yourself if you can make something do what you want. If you can, you can control it. If you can’t, you don’t.

Regards,

Fred Nickols

Managing Partner

Distance Consulting LLC

“Assistance at a Distance”