The Maximum Ordinality Principle

The Maximum Ordinality Principle is the re-proposition of the Maximum Em-Power Principle (Odum, 1994), once deprived of any “residual” reference to traditional concepts of Classical Thermodynamics (such as Energy, Exergy and so on). Such a reformulation might thus appear, at a first glance, as being a sort of “dissonance” with respect to the previous formulations of the Maximum Em-Power Principle, both in steady state and dynamic conditions. Vice versa, in this way the real novelty of the Maximum Em-Power Principle emerges in a much clearer way, by contributing to give a more “harmonious” picture of the surrounding world. This is because classical quantities (such as Energy, Exergy and so on) simply represent a mere cardinal reflex of Generative Processes persistently evolving toward the Maximum Ordinality. Such a re-formulation, on the other hand, is already implicit in the same Rules of Emergy Algebra, which represent one of the most important contributions to modern Science over the last four centuries. This is because they introduce a renewed concept of Quality which is able to transform any scientific aspect”, including the same Principles of Classical Thermodynamics.

A preliminary analogy between the two Principles can be recognized from their pertaining verbal enunciations. In fact the Maximum Em-Power Principle (Odum H. T., 1994a, b, c), given in one of the equivalent forms, states that:

“Every System reaches its maximum possible organization when maximizing the flow of Emergy involved in the process, including that of its surrounding habitat.”

The introduction of the concept of “Incipient Derivative” enabled us to reformulate the Maximum

Em-Power Principle in a more general form, by replacing the concepts of Emergy and Transformity with the concept of Ordinality. The principle can thus be renamed as the Maximum Ordinality Principle, because its the corresponding verbal enunciation then becomes:

“Every System tends to Maximize its own Ordinality, including that of the surrounding habitat.”

In order to show the analogies and differences between the two enunciations and, in particular, to point out the advantages of the mathematical formulation in terms of Ordinality, this Web-site will be articulated in 4 parts:

– Mathematical formulation of the Maximum Em-Power Principle
– From the M. Em-P. Principle to the Maximum Ordinality Principle
– Mathematical formulation of the Maximum Ordinality Principle
– Some Fundamental Ostensive Examples


Odum H. T., 1994a. Ecological and General Systems. An Introduction to Systems Ecology. Re. Edition. University Press Colorado.
Odum H. T., 1994b. Environmental Accounting. Environ. Engineering Sciences. University of Florida.
Odum H. T., 1994c. Self Organization and Maximum Power. Environ. Engineering Sciences. University of Florida.