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Feedback occurs when outputs of a system are routed back as inputs as part of a chain of cause-and-effect that forms a circuit or loop. The system can then be said to feed back into itself. The notion of cause-and-effect has to be handled carefully when applied to feedback systems:
"Simple causal reasoning about a feedback system is difficult because the first system influences the second and second system influences the first, leading to a circular argument. This makes reasoning based upon cause and effect tricky, and it is necessary to analyze the system as a whole."
^ W. Ross Ashby (1957). An introduction to cybernetics (PDF). Chapman & Hall.
^ Andrew Ford (2010). "Chapter 9: Information feedback and causal loop diagrams". Modeling the Environment. Island Press. pp. 99 ff. ISBN 9781610914253. This chapter describes causal loop diagrams to portray the information feedback at work in a system. The word causal refers to cause-and-effect relationships. The word loop refers to a closed chain of cause and effect that creates the feedback.
^ Karl Johan Åström, Richard M. Murray (2010). "§1.1: What is feedback?". Feedback Systems: An Introduction for Scientists and Engineers. Princeton University Press. p. 1. ISBN 9781400828739. Online version found here.