Altshuller established eight Patterns, or Lines, of Technical Systems Evolution:
1. Life cycle.
3. Multiplication cycle. (Transition to Bi- or Poly- system)
4. Transition from macro to micro level.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.