The production systems of the Industrial Age and the large scale systems typical of post-Word War II technology have led engineers to take into consideration not only machines and physical equipment and tools but also abstract objects such as “information”, “decisions”, “quality”. The emphasis on process technology, that is, the planning and control of physical processes as well as information flows, has grown with the evolution of mass production methods, automation, control, communications, and information technologies, and has become a characteristic of modern engineering. The core of such technological developments is theoretical, mathematical based research following new approaches such as those typical of operations research and systems engineering. The problems of control, management and organization of modern engineering systems have proved to be an interesting source of technological-based concepts, theoretical issues, and metaphors. The development of automation, computing, and optimization has stimulated many attempts to transfer ideas from the technological to the biological, social or human context, in which the “system” replaces the classical technical image of the “machine”. Mathematical models have been a vehicle for conveying these technological concepts to different areas of science. Moreover, key concepts such as control, feedback, flexibility, integration, complexity have become a fundamental pathway for accessing technological knowledge in the modern cultural discourse. The present book explores the interaction between technological concepts and mathematical models in the analysis, planning and control of engineering systems from a broad cultural point of view. Part I is devoted to the historical evolution of this interaction, and Part II presents several epistemological and theoretical issues of control engineering, systems science and organization science. The book will be found useful by engineers, mathematicians and historians of science and technology, as well as scholars in economics, management science and operations research. It provides many insights into the nature of technological knowledge, which appear particularly valuable in view of the pervasive presence of technology in contemporary life and culture, not only as a result of its impressive achievements, but through the less obvious influence of its concepts and viewpoints as well. -
MILLAN GASCA, A.M., Fernando, N., Mario, L. (a cura di). (2004). Technological concepts and mathematical models in the evolution of engineering systems. Controlling, Managing, Organizing. Basel Boston Berlin : Birkhäuser.