The term 'homeostasis' was coined by the American physiologist Walter Cannon (1932) who was describing the many self-regulatory mechanisms in the human body. The classic example of homeostasis is the maintenance of body temperature. If we get too hot, we sweat, and evaporation cools us down. Conversely, if we get too cold, we start shivering, and this involuntary exercise warms us up. Subsequently, homeostasis was recognised in many other systems. For example, Lerner (1954), coined the term 'genetic homeostasis' to describe the maintenance of an optimum genetic constitution of a population.

Homeostasis describes an important aspect of systems control, which results in the maintenance of a desirable steady state. The mechanism of this control is called feedback.

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