Homepage of William Ross Ashby

William Ross Ashby was a major contributor to the field of cybernetics. His achievements are referenced repeatedly in the cybernetics literature. He pioneered the concept of a "homeostatic machine" which is as fundamental to the development of the mathematical models of cybernetics as the concept of the "black body" has been to astrophysics, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics. Indeed his influence was sufficiently great to have induced Ludwig von Bertalanffly to devote several pages in his book to explaining how they differed on methods of study.1

Although a considerable amount of published material has been written about Dr. Ashby, not much has been written amount Dr. Ashby's life. Surprisingly, he was not mentioned in any of the leading "Who's Who" references, be they British or American. Futhermore, his life was not discussed in any of the major encyclopedias. The only source of this information was found to be an obscure obituary notice in the 1973 Encyclopedia Britannica Yearbook. This notice is quoted below:

ASHBY, (WILLIAM) ROSS, British cyberneticist (b. London, Eng., Sept. 6, 1903 -- d. Nov. 15, 1972), outstanding pioneer in the study of the organization and control of complex systems, was director (1947-59) of research at Barnwood House Hospital, Gloucester. He wrote Design for a Brain (1952) and an Introduction to Cybernetics (1956), both classics in their field. Director of the Burden Neurological Institute in the Dept. of Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana (1961-70), he was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatry in 1971." 2

Sources Cited to Create This Site List of Ashby's Publications
Quotations by Ashby Ashby's Disciplinary Matrix