Principia Cybernetica Web

Search Principia Cybernetica

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Principia Cybernetica Web Web as a whole
This is a traditional search through the Google engine which finds the most relevant documents (of any type) on this website that contain ALL the words you entered.

Title search

Here you can search in the titles of main documents available on the Principia Cybernetica Web. This includes normal PCP-nodes, "primitive concepts", definitions from the Web Dictionary on Cybernetics and Systems Theory, files available in our FTP-archive, and the related Internet resources.


For tips on searching, check the common search errors.

You can enter any string of letters separated by spaces (without quotes). The search is case-independent. For example, entering systems theo will return all documents that have both strings of letters, in that very order, in their title: e.g. 'What is Systems Theory?' and 'Metasystems theory', but not 'theory of systems'.

It is possible to combine several keywords into boolean expressions using 'and', 'or', 'not' and brackets '( )' as logical connectives. E.g., all the above titles would be found by typing systems and theo. Another example: if you want to search for a document with the word 'cybernetics' in its title but NOT the words 'evolution' or 'theory', then enter the following expression in the search field:

Cybernetics and not (evolution or theory)

Searching on boolean expressions is much slower than searching on space separated strings, so use it sparingly.

Full-text search

If your title search does not produce any results, you may try the full-text search:
This searches through the text (not titles or other fields) of all nodes in the Principia Cybernetica Web. It does not include the "primitive concepts", the Dictionary, or the files from our FTP-archive.


Full-text search will accept words without the ending characters, but not without initial characters. E.g. 'system' will find "systemic", and "Systems", but not "metasystem". It does not accept Boolean combinations. Spaces between words will be interpreted as an implied "and", so 'systems theory' will find all nodes that have both "systems" and "theory" in their text (perhaps many lines apart). If you enter common strings, such as 'system' or 'cyber', the search will automatically stop after 300 hits.

AltaVista search

You can also try the AltaVista general web search engine to find things in PCP Web. This is an "or" search, where you can enter many similar keywords, and the search engine will select the documents that contain most of them, without requiring the document to contain all of them, like the full-text search above. You can search for compound expressions, like "general systems theory", rather than for separate keywords by keeping the complete expression within quotes. Putting the sign + in front of a word or phrase limits the results to pages that contain that phrase, while the sign - excludes pages with that phrase.

(You do need to leave the " " string in the search box to make sure you will only get documents from this server, rather than from the Web at large.)

Mailing list search

There is also an archive search available for the messages of our PRNCYB-L mailing list with discussions on PCP related topics.

Copyright© 2003 Principia Cybernetica - Referencing this page

J. Bollen, F. Heylighen,

Oct 6, 2003 (modified)
March 18, 1994 (created)


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