A perfectly reversible system could be considered as having a perfect memory of its initial conditions, inscribed in its history, and thus be able to backtrack to its initial state.
This is however not the case for any concrete system, with many initial conditions whose effects interact in new ways at any instant. As stated by K. BERRIEN: "All memories in any form decay, some at an infinitesimal rate. The print of books fade,… magnetic patterns dissipate, and, evidently, whatever the neural traces may be, they vanish. Even if we conceive of storage as any potential energy, the second law of thermodynamics carries with it the increase in entropy as an inevitable degradation of all energies… Memory can be conceived to be a stored change in a system as a consequence of signal inputs that are maintained longer by appropriate maintenance inputs" (1968, p.42-3).
In BOLTZMANN's statistical interpretation, entropy leads the ideally isolated system toward maximum molecular disorder, i.e. away from any memory of its particular initial and dissymmetric conditions.
In turn, any concrete complex system must necessarily be highly dissymmetric and maintain itself within the limits of a global determinism which defines its general conditions of existence. But such a global determinism allows for local and transient conditions, which may be unconnected for a while, and later on recombine in very variable ways, within however the limits of the global determinism. The set of the initial conditions becomes probably blurred during this process and possibly disseminated among numerous elements or subsystems, as for example, in populations or social systems.
In this way, the "memory" of initial conditions is not lost, but becomes scattered and can never be fully recovered and reintegrated.
Such a situation may be clearly observed, for example, in the Markovian matrixes used by W.R. ASHBY for the study of populations behavior (1956, n°9/6).
According to a curious comment by R. THOM, "A solid is quite static. But its interest is that it is a depositary of past actions, which makes it interesting for the interpretations of forms. It is a memory. A liquid has scant memory and a gas, still less, since it takes the form of the container in which it is stored" (1991, p.49).
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Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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