В предисловии к книге Абрахама обнаружился интересный отрывок о стабильности физических систем. Возьму-ка я и процитирую его полностью. Выглядит очень интересно, но не успел пока над этим подумать как следует.

At the turn of this century a simple description of physical theory evolved, especially among continental physicists -- Duhem, Poincare, Mach, Einstein, Hadamard, Hilbert -- which may still be quite close to the views of many mathematical physicists. This description -- most clearly enunciated by Duhem[1] -- consisted of anexperimental domain, amathematical model, and aconventional interpretation. The model, being a mathematical system, embodies the logic, or axiomatization, of the theory. The interpretation is an agreement connecting the parameters and therefore the conclusions of the model and the observables in the domain.

Traditionally, the philosopher-scientists judge the usefulness of the theory by the criterion ofadequacy, that is, the verifiability of the predictions, of the quality of the agreement between the interpreted conclusions of the model and the data of the experimental domain. To this Duhem adds, in a brief example [1, pp. 138 ff.], the criterion ofstability.

This criterion, suggested to him by the earliest results of qualitative mechanics (Hadamard), refers to the stability or continuity of the predictions, or their adequacy, when the model is slightly perturbed. The general applicability of this type of criterion has been suggested by Rene Thom [2].

This stability concerns variation of the model only, the interpretation and domain being fixed. Therefore, it concerns mainly the model, and is primarily a mathematical or logical question. It has been studied to some extent in a general logical setting by the physicologicians Bouligand[3] and Destouches[4], but probably it is safe to say that a clear enunciation of this criterion in the correct generality has not yet been made. Certainly all of the various notions of stability in qualitative mechanics and ordinary differential equations are special cases of this notion, including Laplace's problem of the stability of the solar system and structural stability, as well as Thom's stability of biological systems.

Also, although this criterion has not been discussed very explicitly by physicists, it has functioned as a tacit assumption, which may be called thedogma of stability. For example, in a model with differential equations, in which stability may mean structural stability, the model depends on parameters, namely the coefficients of the equation, each value of which corresponds to a different model. As these parameters can be determined only approximately, the theory is useful only if the equations are structurally stable [т.е. малые изменения параметров ведут к малым изменениям решений --avva], which cannot be proved at present in many important cases.Probably the physicist must rely on faith at this point, analogous to the faith of a mathematician in the consistency of set theory[интересная аналогия! выделено мной --avva].

An alternative to the dogma of stability has been offered by Thom[2]. He suggests that stability, precisely formulated in a specific theory, be added to the model as an additional hypothesis. This formalization, despite the risk of an inconsistent axiomatic system, reduces the criterion of stability to an aspect of the criterion of adequacy, and in addition may admit additional theorems or predictions in the model. As yet no implications of this axiom are known for celestial mechanics, but Thom has described some conclusions in his model for biological systems.

A careful statement of this notion of stability in the general context of physical theory and epistemology would be quite useful in technical applications of mechanics as well as in the formation of new qualitative theories in physics, biology, and the social sciences.

[1]: Duhem, P. The Aim and Structure or Physical Theory, Princeton Univ. Press, 1954.

[2]: Thom, R. Stabilité structurelle et morthogenèse, Benjamin, NY, 1967.

Интересно, что за биологические примеры описывает Том?

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