Friday, November 04, 2011

You don't need to be a system dynamicist ...

... to understand feedback.

I used to read Bob Pease's columns, articles, and app notes eagerly when I was a practicing design engineer.  He always had great insights and practical insights for making circuits work well.  He was also very open to helping others; he responded to a query I once sent him about Teledeltos paper.  I liked computer simulation more than he did, but I saw simulation as a way to get additional insights, not as a replacement for working in the real world, so we might not have disagreed too much on that point.

When I had occasion to look up his columns last week, I discovered sadly that he passed away last June.  I also discovered an interesting article he wrote applying feedback thinking to our current economic situation.

When you read the article, notice how naturally he reasoned through the process.  If you're familiar with feedback theory, recognize that feedback applies to human and organizational systems, too, as Bob did.  If you're not, figure out ways to get a feeling for how feedback works.  While simulation is great, I, too, got a visceral understanding of feedback by designing and troubleshooting physical circuits.  I'm looking for physical ways for non-engineers to get a similar level of understanding without limiting themselves to computer simulations.  Ideas?

Here is another article Bob wrote on feedback control systems.  We'll miss him, and we'll miss Jim Williams, whose funeral Bob had just attended when he passed away.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Tom Fiddaman said...

I love the punch line - " I can do this any day, on my bench—but I don’t destroy a nation’s economy."

08 November, 2011 16:14  
Blogger Bill Harris said...

Yep. He had a way with words. :-)

09 November, 2011 21:11  

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