The Good-Regulator Project

Educational Materials

The mission of the Good-Regulator Project is to increase public awareness and understanding of the crucial role that models and representations play in the regulation of complex systems.  To accomplish this mission, we are offering  free to the public the educational materials shown below.  For the time being, these materials focus exclusively on Conant and Ashby's "Good-Regulator Theorem" and although they are all designed to stand on their own, they also form a logical sequence and if you are completely new to Conant & Ashby's theorem it is recommended that you begin with the "Three Amibos" tutorial before approaching the "Primer" and then finally the "Good-Key" essay.

Please Note: although these materials are available to the public free of charge, their use is subject to our Terms and Conditions.  Please review these Terms and Conditions prior to accessing the following educational materials:

  • The Three Amibos Good-Regulator Tutorial: a Web-based interactive learning experience that uses three colorful and curiosity-provoking amoeba-like creatures ("amibos") to help the non-scientist learner achieve an enriched, high-level understanding of Conant and Ashby's "Good-Regulator Theorem"  Note: this tutorial has only been tested and debugged in a Firefox browser.  If you do not have the Firefox browser, you can get the latest version here.

  • The Three Amibos Good-Regulator Tutorial as .pdf: this is just the text portion of the above tutorial that you can download and print out if you prefer to read hard-copy instead of toggling back and forth between the Animation Panel and the text on your computer screen.

  • A Primer For Conant & Ashby's "Good-Regulator" Theorem: the purpose of this essay is to train the mathematically literate non-specialist to understand Conant and Ashby's proof of their theorem.  Although  a very little bit of calculus is used in this essay, this portion can be skimmed with little loss to the overall purpose.  Also some familiarity with basic probability and summation notation is assumed, but many of these conceptual tools are explained as they are introduced.  The main prerequisite to tackling this essay is a robust motivation.  The above "Three Amibos" tutorial is also highly recommended.

  • Every Good Key Must Be A Model Of The Lock It Opens -- The Conant And Ashby Theorem Revisited: for technically sophisticated readers, this essay explores a  line of inquiry established by the original Conant  & Ashby Paper.  Several results are presented, including a simpler and more general proof of the theorem, a search algorithm that can be used to rapidly locate excellent approximations to ideal good-regulator models, and a corollary to Conant and Ashby's theorem that constitutes a "Law of Requisite Back-Up Plans".  Other results are also discussed.  It is recommended that the reader study the "Three Amibos" tutorial and the "Primer" (see above) before attempting this essay.

The above materials are subject to the Terms and Conditions of this website.  Please review these Terms and Conditions before attempting to access any of the above materials.