Feedback Control Theory: A Timely Illumination

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1978, Vol 23(10), 726–727. Reviews the book, Control Theory in Biology and Experimental Psychology by F. M. Toates (1975). The value of Frederick Toates's excellent and unique book lies in the critical gap that it bridges between the mathematical complexities of feedback control analysis, and the myriad of behavioral phenomena that can be described as feedback control systems; that is, systems whose outputs are deterministically related to their inputs, while those outputs are also “fed back” so that they constitute an integral part of the inputs. The chapters in the book reflect a mixture of three equally stressed content-based themes, relating to tools, examples, and philosophy. The basic analytical tools necessary to understand control systems and to construct models of their behavior are presented in chapters on “Basic Mathematics,” “The La Place Transform,” “The Mathematics of Feedback Control Systems,” and “Frequency Response Methods.” A second theme concerns the physiological and biological systems that exemplify the feedback control principles described in the book. Finally, the third theme, recurring periodically throughout the book, presents the author's philosophic approach to model building and control systems. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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