What is Structure LO25557

From: Leo Minnigh (l.d.minnigh@library.tudelft.nl)
Date: 10/31/00

Replying to LO25554 --

Dear Fred, Dear LO'ers,

I like your trinity:

> To me, "structure" (in anything, including systems,) has three
> components. First, there are the elements that make up the
> system. Second, are the connections between and among these
> elements. Third, are the relationships that exist between and among the
> elements by way of their connections. Elements, connections and
> relationships; these are the stuff of structure.

I like it, because it includes both, form and content. And I think this is
essential for any structure.

However, I think that there is still something missing. This missing link
probably is the most clear in your first example:

> A diagram could be (and commonly is) drawn similar to the crude effort below
> . Revenue
> . minus = Profit
> . Expenses
> Enclose those terms in boxes and connect them with lines and you have a
> picture of the structure of one of the basic elements in what we all call
> "the bottom line."
> The elements are revenue, expenses and profits. The connections are
> arithmetic. The relationships are such that profit varies directly with
> revenue and inversely with expenses and is equal to the difference between
> the two.

What is this missing link??

Before I will tell you, let me first give a strange other type of
'?structure?': the hole. Could a hole be defined as a special type of a
structure? Maybe this example is too philosophical?? According to Fred's
elements --> 'particles' of nothing
connections --> strong bond between these 'particles'
relationships --> the symmetry of the whole of the hole

With some fantasy, one may compare a hole with the reverse of a flock of
birds or a rain drop.

But some less weird and more plain persons, will immediately bring forward
that a hole is defined by its surroundings.
And here we have the missing link: the environment or surroundings. Any
system should have one or more criteria in it that enables to distinguish
it from its environment.
In a lot of contributions of At de Lange this missing link becomes clear.
The static and dynamic relationships between a system SY and its
surroundings SU has been described by him.

I have easily jumped from structure to system in the former paragraph. Was
this jump a too large step? I don't think so, but one should realise that
both words do not have similar meanings.

So my advise is that we should not look only to and in the system to study
and define its structure (internal, or convergent view), but that we also
should look to the connections and relationships between the system with a
structure and its environment (external, or divergent view).

This is the main thing what I had in mind, when reading all the
contributions on this topic.

There are two other things.
1. The example of the hole was possibly somewhat weird, but it has
something interesting too: the size of the hole. If a hole is large, we
could look through it without deformation of what is behind the hole.
However, if the hole is small (think for instance on the diaphragma of a
camera) the world behind the hole is turned upside down. If the hole is
even smaller (in the order of the wavelength of light), the wave behaviour
of light becomes enlarged as radiations behind the hole. This becomes even
clearer when two tine holes are close together: interference patterns
appea behind these holes. We touch the quantum behaviour of light
(particle OR wave, I think here we really have LEM operating).

For those who panic after reading the word 'quantum' (a behaviour that I
show often too), a 'light' example:
Quantum behaviour of light could be very easy demonstrated. We all now and
then have looked through the window towards the dark street in front of
our house during the night. And we all know that we will see two pictures:
the dark street AND our own mirror picture. Well, this is just one example
from daily life of the quantum behaviour of light: some light goes through
the glass window as electromagnetic waves, the other light bounces back as
particles and results in thge mirror picture.

Back to the hole. The size of the hole has important implications. Is it
maybe so that also the dimension and size of any kind of structure is
something we should include in our dialogue?

2. I have used in the beginning of this message the word 'symmetry'. It is
a subject that in modern physics plays a crucial role. Symmetry and forces
are closely related; as a matter of fact, some of the weak forces between
elementary particles were first predicted with the use of symmetry, and
later discovered. I try to study somewhat on this subject, but I am afraid
that lots of aspects of this matter is too difficult for me. Possibly
there is a reader on this list who likes/wants to write about this very
interesting subject.

My thoughts are already playing for some time on this matter. Could
for instance give symmetry us an answer on the question of the number
seven of the essentialities of At? My intuition says yes, but as I
mentioned the subject is untill now too complex for me. (There are seven
symmetry groups in crystallography).
However, symmetry could be used too in the discussion on the
present subject of "what is structure".

dr. Leo D. Minnigh
Library Technical University Delft
PO BOX 98, 2600 MG Delft, The Netherlands
Tel.: 31 15 2782226
        Let your thoughts meander towards a sea of ideas.


Leo Minnigh <l.d.minnigh@library.tudelft.nl>

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