Ludwig Von Bertalanffy

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bertalanffy, Ludwig Von


Born Sept. 19, 1901, in Atzgersdorf, Austria. Theoretical biologist, originator of the “general theory of systems.”

From 1934 to 1948, Bertalanffy was assistant professor and then professor at the University of Vienna; from 1949 to 1961 he worked in various universities in the USA and Canada; since 1961 he has been professor of theoretical biology at the University of Alberta, Canada. Approaching biological objects as organized dynamic systems, Bertalanffy gave an extensive analysis of the contradictions between mechanism and vitalism, of the origin and development of organismic ideas concerning the integrity of the organism, and, on the basis of the latter, of the formation of the conception of systems in biology. Bertalanffy is responsible for many attempts to apply the organismic approach (that is, the approach from the point of view of integrity) in the study of tissue respiration and of the relation between metabolism and growth in animals. The method proposed by Bertalanffy for the analysis of open, equifinal systems (that is, systems seemingly aspiring to some goal) opened up the possibility of the wide application in biology of the ideas of thermodynamics, cybernetics, and physical chemistry. Bertalanffy’s ideas have been applied in medicine, psychiatry, and other related disciplines. As one of the pioneers of the systems approach, Bertalanffy proposed the first generalized systematic conception in contemporary science. The tasks of this conception, according to Bertalanffy, are the construction of a mathematical apparatus for describing various types of systems, the establishment of the isomorphism of laws in various areas of knowledge, and the search for the means of integrating the sciences. These tasks, however, have only been realized for various types of open biological systems (that is, those exchanging matter, energy, and information with the surroundings). Bertalanffy is one of the organizers of the Society for Research in the Area of General Systems Theory (1954) and its yearbook General Systems.


Theoretische Biologie, vols. 1–2. Berlin, 1932–42.
Das biologische Weltbild. Bern, [1949].
Problems of Life. London, 1952.
General System Theory: Foundations, Development, Applications. New York, 1968.


Lektorskii, V. A., and V. N. Sadovskii. “O printsipakh issledovaniia sistem.” Voprosy filosofii, 1960, no. 8.
Bendmann, A. L. von Bertalanffy’s organismische Auffassung des Lebens in ihren philosophischen Konsequenzen. Jena, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Estimation of the reported whale shark using the model parameters of two and three-parameters with von Bertalanffy (1938).
Growth was modeled with the von Bertalanffy growth equation adapted by Beverton and Holt (1957) ([l.sub.t] = [L.sub.[infinity]][1- [e.sup.-k(t-t).sub.0]], where [l.sub.t] is length at time, K is a growth parameter, [L.sub.[infinity]] is the asymptotic length, t is time, and [t.sub.0] is the time at which [l.sub.t] is zero (Williamson and Garvey, 2005).
Among these, the three parameters Gompertz (Laird, 1965), Logistic (Nelder, 1961), Brody (Brody, 1945) and Von Bertalanffy (Bertalanffy, 1957) functions are commonly used in modelling the growth in weight of animals with age.
In the emergence of the new phase of life on the Mother Earth, the systems biology, as anticipated/envisaged by the Austrian Biologist and Mathematician Ludwig von Bertalanffy in his book on mathematical model of organism's growth over time, published in 1934, has now become the order of the day.
Results from the use of a von Bertalanffy growth model indicate that alewife grew larger and faster than blueback herring (P<0.0001) and that females grew larger and faster than males for both species (P<0.0001).
The aim of this study was to evaluate the adjustment of nonlinear Brody, Gompertz, Logistic and Von Bertalanffy models in the description of pequi fruit growth considering the autoregressive structure for errors based on their physical characteristics.
En el estudio se utilizaron varios modelos de crecimiento para seleccionar el de mejor ajuste siguiendo el criterio de la informacion de Akaike, enfoque considerado recientemente como mejor alternativa en el estudio del crecimiento de peces, en comparacion con el uso a priori del modelo unico de von Bertalanffy [2, 3, 5, 7].
We consider the Logistic, Gompertz, and Bertalanffy models.
The authors, who are psychologists, outline a new theory and therapy for couples and families that completes the general systems theory of Ludwig von Bertalanffy and addresses what needs to change in a dysfunctional couple or family system.
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