The epsilon-knowledge: An emerging complement of Machlup’s types of disciplinary knowledge

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Machlup, F. used the words alpha, beta, and gamma to identify humanities, science, and social science as three distinct fields of academic learning and knowing, in addition to general knowledge. Gilles, W. and Paquet, G. identified a fourth type of disciplinary knowledge and labelled it as delta. This includes the knowledge of creative disciplines such as design, law, and economy. Since the time of these road-paving works, a lot has changed. In the last two decades, various concepts and manifestations of intellectualized engineered systems have appeared. A paradigmatic feature ofthese systems, exemplified by smart cyber-physical systems, is that they collect, infer, or extract massive amount of synthetic system knowledge (M-SSK) based on some pre-programmed human
knowledge. The amount of this type of knowledge grows continuously. It can be aggregated on system level as well as on system of systems level. This paper argues that this aggregated M-SSK is not covered by the abovementioned four genres of knowledge. In fact, it represents a new genre. The conducted literature study underpins this claim. Therefore, the paper suggests dealing with it as
a new genre, called epsilon-knowledge. Artificial intelligence, system engineering, cyber-physical systems, and knowledge engineering are the disciplines dealing with epsilon-knowledge. The paper refers to sympérasmology as the proper conceptual framework of studying this genre of knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalArtificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Genres of knowledge
  • beyond ABGD-knowledge
  • intellectualized engineered systems
  • ynthetic systems knowledge
  • epsilon-knowledge
  • sympérasmology


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