How widely applicable is the maximum power principle -
and under what circumstances can it be applied?
It appears to apply to systems far-from equilbrium.
More specifically, it appears to apply from systems
far-from equilbrium once they have developed self-organising
systems in them.
Being far-from equlibrium alone is not enough -
there are many systems which act as potential energy
reservoirs, which are far from equilbrium - but are
non-the-less quite stable - the maximum power principle
does not usefully apply to them.
As such some of the most obvious systems it applies to are
biology, systems involving turbulent fluid flow, drainage
patterns and crystallisation.
Whether a dynamical system can be regarded as self-
organising is often a matter of degree - and systems with
"weak" self-organising systems in them may have the rate at
which they consume resources governed by other factors.
There's also the question of whether all self-
organising systems qualify. Looking at the main
proposed mechanism by which
self-organising systems consume their resources at a maximal
rate, this depends on a selection process acting between
variants - and it is conceivable that some self-organising
systems don't fit into this framework very well. However,
it seems to me that most self-organising systems actually
do fit into this descriptive framework to some extent.
Tim Tyler |