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Lines of Evolution

Altshuller established eight Patterns, or Lines, of Technical Systems Evolution:

 

1. Life cycle.

2. Dynamization.

3. Multiplication cycle. (Transition to Bi- or Poly- system)

4. Transition from macro to micro level.

5. Synchronization.

6. Scaling up or down

7. Uneven development of parts

8. Replacement of human (Automation)

 

Here are an explanation some of these patterns and a few examples:

 

The Pattern of Dynamization suggests that any technical system during its evolutionary process makes a transition from a rigid to a flexible structure. This transition can be summarized as follows: A solid system obtains one joint, then many joints, then the whole system becomes completely flexible. Dynamization also means that a ridged system may be divided into elements that can become moveable relative to each other.

Examples:

1. The steering column of a car has a joint allowing adjustment of its vertical position.

2. An antenna becomes collapsible.

3. The landing gear of an airplane folds and retracts.

4. A good example of complete Dynamization is a screwdriver whose stem is made of two springs, one

inside the other, with opposite winding directions making it completely flexible.

 

The Pattern of Multiplication states that a technical system evolves first as a single system and then later

multiplies itself. When similar elements are added together, it is called a homogeneous system. This combination of elements acquires a whole new property.

Example:

Two boats attached through a single frame (a catamaran) become more stable than two separate boats.

Different elements added together form a heterogeneous system. Such a system provides more functions while occupying less space.

Example:

The pocketknife began its cycle with a single blade. Different types of blades were added, then scissors,

screwdriver, a file and so on. Another variation on the heterogeneous system involves the addition of an opposite function producing higher levels of innovation.

Examples:

1. A pencil and eraser are joined together.

2. A tape recorder can both record and erase.

The Pattern of Multiplication usually ends with the rejection of all extra elements that belong to the heterogeneous system — driving the system back to a mono system and thus beginning a new cycle.

 

The Pattern of Transition to Micro level states that elements of a technical system during its lifetime have a tendency to decrease in size, eventually collapsing into the micro level (molecules and atoms).

Examples:

1. A record playing device transitions from a mechanical needle (having mechanical contact with the surface grove of a record) into an optical system with a laser reading information on a digital disk.

2. A computer mouse has a ball that converts mechanical hand movement into an electrical signal.

The next generation of mouse is a touch plate, where the mechanical motion of a finger is transformed into an electrical signal.