Some Analogies of Hierarchical Order in Biology and Linguistics

  • Martin Zwick
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 5)


The ubiquity of hierarchical order is obvious, and the obvious is hard to explain, but a number of workers [1] have suggested the possibility of constructing a theory (or cluster of theories), rooted in such disciplines as thermodynamics, information theory, topology, and logic, which might reveal the underlying unity of a wide variety of branching and multi-level systems. It is the purpose of this paper to contribute to both the empirical and theoretical aspects of this discussion, by examining levels of structure and function in molecular biology and linguistics, and by developing, from parallelisms between these two areas, a hierarchical model of possibly greater generality.


Hierarchical Model Hierarchical Order Secondary Transition Multienzyme Complex Linguistic Entity 
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    See, for example, in L. L. Whyte, A. G. Wilson and D. Wilson, eds., Hierarchical Structures. American Elsevier, New York, 1969;Google Scholar
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    P. Weiss, ed., Hierarchically Organized Systems in Theory and Practice. Hafner, New York, 1971;Google Scholar
  3. 1b.
    H. H. Pattee, ed., Hierarchy Theory: the Challenge of Complex Systems. G. Braziller, New York, 1973; also the work of Koestler, Laszlo, Leopold, Levins, Mesarovic, Miller, Piaget, Platt, Simon, Thorn, von Bertalanffy, Woldenberg, and others.Google Scholar
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  14. 7.
    The author wishes to thank William C. Wimsatt and R. B. Lees for many helpful discussions. They are, of course, not responsible for any errors in the text.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Zwick
    • 1
  1. 1.Systems Science Ph.D. ProgramPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA

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