Biology, Medicine &
  Business & Economics

    10 - 12 Grades
This volume is part of the monograph series of the New Liberal Arts Program (1980-1992), a project of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The NLA Program had the goal of assisting in the introduction of quantitative reasoning and concepts of modern technology within liberal education. The Program was based on the conviction that college graduates should have been introduced to both areas if they are to live in the social mainstream and participate in the resolution of policy issues. The Center for Mathematics and Quantitative Education is delighted to make these monographs available.


John G. Truxal
SUNY at Stony Brook

Feedback exists naturally in physiological, economic and social systems. This monograph starts with familiar examples of feedback -- the body temperature control system, the home heating system and the steering of a car. Feedback is defined as a goal-seeking system in which the actual output is measured and compared with the desired output. The difference in the two values (or error) then forces the output to change toward a desired value.

The engineer has developed feedback as a central tool of system design. With feedback, the engineer forces the system to behave in the desired way, even if the system parts change their behavior radically.

Feedback is the essential elemcnt of automation. By automation we mean machines replacing people in tasks requiring decisions. The author uses simple examples to make these two terms, feedback and automation, understandable to the lay reader.

The mathematics ranges from simple arithmetic to algebra.