Bookplate signed by W. Ross Ashby.

The W. Ross Ashby Digital Archive

William Ross Ashby (1903-1972) was a British pioneer in the fields of cybernetics and systems theory. He is best known for the law of requisite variety, the principle of self-organization, intelligence amplification, the good regulator theorem, building the automatically stabilizing Homeostat, and his books Design for a Brain (1952) and An Introduction to Cybernetics (1956).

In 2003, Ross's family gave his journals, papers, and correspondence to the British Library, London. Then, in March 2004, on the last day of the W. Ross Ashby Centenary Conference, they announced the intention to make his journal available on the Internet. Four years later, this website fulfilled that promise, making this previously unpublished work available on-line.

The journal consists of 7,189 numbered pages in 25 volumes, and over 1,600 index cards. To make it easy to browse purposefully through so many images, extensive cross-linking has been added that is based on the keywords in Ross's original keyword index. To jump directly to a particular journal page, enter the page number here: then press Enter.

The biography describes Ross's life in more detail than has previously been available in the public domain, and includes many photographs from the family's private albums. Various other information and resources can be accessed via the navigation frame on the left.

Recent News

January 2021: The previously unpublished 196 page booklet "The Origin of Adaptation", written in 1941, is available as a PDF.

December 2020: Mick Ashby's research into the cybernetics of ethical systems, which builds on the good regulator theorem and the law of requisite variety, was published in the Systems journal as a concept paper, "Ethical Regulators and Super-Ethical Systems".

October 2020: The mirror copy that was hosted on since March 2018 is no longer available.

March 2018: A new page was added to make it easy to access the contents of Mechanisms of Intelligence: Ashby's Writings on Cybernetics (1981) by Roger Conant.

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