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A system is a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole.[1] Every system is
delineated by its spatial and temporal boundaries, surrounded and influenced by its environment, described by its
structure and purpose and expressed in its functioning.

1 Etymology
2 History
3 System concepts
3.1 Subsystem
4 Analysis of systems
4.1 Cultural system
4.2 Economic system
5 Application of the system concept
5.1 Systems in information and computer science
5.2 Systems in engineering and physics
5.3 Systems in social and cognitive sciences and management research
5.4 Pure logical systems
5.5 Systems applied to strategic thinking
6 See also
7 References
8 Bibliography
9 External links

The term "system" comes from the Latin word systma, in turn from Greek systma: "whole concept made of
several parts or members, system", literary "composition".[2]

According to Marshall McLuhan,

"System" means "something to look at". You must have a very high visual gradient to have systematization.
But in philosophy, prior to Descartes, there was no "system". Plato had no "system". Aristotle had no

In the 19th century the French physicist Sadi Carnot, who studied thermodynamics, pioneered the development of the
concept of a "system" in the natural sciences. In 1824 he studied the system which he called the working substance
(typically a body of water vapor) in steam engines, in regards to the system's ability to do work when heat is applied to
it. The working substance could be put in contact with either a boiler, a cold reservoir (a stream of cold water), or a
piston (to which the working body could do work by pushing on it). In 1850, the German physicist Rudolf Clausius
generalized this picture to include the concept of the surroundings and began to use the term "working body" when
referring to the system.

The biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901-1972) became one of the pioneers of the general systems theory. In 1945 he
introduced models, principles, and laws that apply to generalized systems or their subclasses, irrespective of their
particular kind, the nature of their component elements, and the relation or 'forces' between them.[5]

Norbert Wiener (1894-1964) and Ross Ashby (1903-1972), who pioneered the use of mathematics to study systems,
carried out significant development in the concept of a system.[6][7]

In the 1980s John Henry Holland (1929- ), Murray Gell-Mann (1929- ) and others coined the term "complex adaptive
system" at the interdisciplinary Santa Fe Institute.

System concepts
Environment and boundaries
Systems theory views the world as a complex system of interconnected parts. One scopes a
system by defining its boundary; this means choosing which entities are inside the system
and which are outsidepart of the environment. One can make simplified representations
(models) of the system in order to understand it and to predict or impact its future behavior.
These models may define the structure and behavior of the system.

Natural and human-made systems

There are natural and human-made (designed) systems. Natural systems may not have an
apparent objective but their behavior can be interpreted as purposeful by an observer.
Human-made systems are made to satisfy an identified and stated need with purposes that
are achieved by the delivery of wanted outputs. Their parts must be related; they must be
"designed to work as a coherent entity" otherwise they would be two or more distinct

Theoretical framework
An open system exchanges matter and energy with
its surroundings. Most systems are open systems;
like a car, a coffeemaker, or a computer. A closed
system exchanges energy, but not matter, with its
environment; like Earth or the project Biosphere2 or
3. An isolated system exchanges neither matter nor
energy with its environment. A theoretical example
of such system is the Universe.

Process and transformation process

An open system can also be viewed as a bounded
transformation process, that is, a black box that is a Open systems have input and output
process or collection of processes that transforms flows, representing exchanges of matter,
inputs into outputs. Inputs are consumed; outputs energy or information with their
are produced. The concept of input and output here surroundings.
is very broad. For example, an output of a
passenger ship is the movement of people from
departure to destination.

System model
A system comprises multiple views. Man-made systems may have such views as concept,
analysis, design, implementation, deployment, structure, behavior, input data, and output
data views. A system model is required to describe and represent all these multiple views.
Systems architecture
A systems architecture, using one single integrated model for the description of multiple
views such as concept, analysis, design, implementation, deployment, structure, behavior,
structure-behavior coalescence, input data, and output data views, is a kind of system

A subsystem is a set of elements, which is a system itself, and a component of a larger system.

A subsystem description is a system object that contains information defining the characteristics of an operating
environment controlled by the system.[8]

Analysis of systems
Evidently, there are many kinds of systems that can be analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. For example, in
an analysis of urban systems dynamics, A .W. Steiss[9] defined five intersecting systems, including the physical
subsystem and behavioral system. For sociological models influenced by systems theory, where Kenneth D. Bailey[10]
defined systems in terms of conceptual, concrete, and abstract systems, either isolated, closed, or open. Walter F.
Buckley[11] defined systems in sociology in terms of mechanical, organic, and process models. Bela H. Banathy[12]
cautioned that for any inquiry into a system understanding its kind is crucial, and defined "natural" and "designed", i.
e., artificial systems.

Artificial systems inherently have a major defect: they must be premised on one or more fundamental assumptions
upon which additional knowledge is built. These fundamental assumptions are not inherently deleterious, but they
must by definition be assumed as true, and if they are actually false then the system is not as structurally integral as is
assumed. For example, in geometry this is very evident in the postulation of theorems and extrapolation of proofs
from them.

It is important not to confuse these abstract definitions. Theorists include in natural systems sub-atomic systems,
living systems, the solar system, galactic systems, and the Universe. Artificial systems include our physical structures,
hybrids of natural and artificial systems, and conceptual knowledge. The human elements of organization and
functions are emphasized with their relevant abstract systems and representations. A cardinal consideration in making
distinctions among systems is to determine how much freedom the system has to select its purpose, goals, methods,
tools, etc. and how wide is the freedom to select itself as distributed or concentrated.

George J. Klir[13] maintained that no "classification is complete and perfect for all purposes," and defined systems as
abstract, real, and conceptual physical systems, bounded and unbounded systems, discrete to continuous, pulse to
hybrid systems, etc. The interactions between systems and their environments are categorized as relatively closed and
open systems. It seems most unlikely that an absolutely closed system can exist or, if it did, that it could be known by
man. Important distinctions have also been made between hard and soft systems.[14] Hard systems are technical in
nature and amenable to methods such as systems engineering, operations research, and quantitative systems analysis.
Soft systems involve people and organisations and are commonly associated with concepts developed by Peter
Checkland and Brian Wilson through Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) involving methods such as action research and
emphasis of participatory designs. Where hard systems might be identified as more "scientific," the distinction
between them is often elusive.

Cultural system
A cultural system may be defined as the interaction of different elements of culture. While a cultural system is quite
different from a social system, sometimes both systems together are referred to as a "sociocultural system". A major
concern of the social sciences is the problem of order.
Economic system
An economic system is a mechanism (social institution) which deals with the production, distribution and
consumption of goods and services in a particular society. The economic system is composed of people, institutions
and their relationships to resources, such as the convention of property. It addresses the problems of economics, like
the allocation and scarcity of resources.

Application of the system concept

Systems modeling is generally a basic principle in engineering and in social sciences. The system is the representation
of the entities under concern. Hence inclusion to or exclusion from system context is dependent of the intention of the

No model of a system will include all features of the real system of concern, and no model of a system must include all
entities belonging to a real system of concern.

Systems in information and computer science

In computer science and information science, system is a software system which has components as its structure and
observable inter-process communications as its behavior. Again, an example will illustrate: There are systems of
counting, as with Roman numerals, and various systems for filing papers, or catalogues, and various library systems,
of which the Dewey Decimal System is an example. This still fits with the definition of components which are
connected together (in this case in order to facilitate the flow of information).

System can also be used referring to a framework, be it software or hardware, designed to allow software programs to
run, see platform.

Systems in engineering and physics

In engineering and physics, a physical system is the portion of the universe that is being studied (of which a
thermodynamic system is one major example). Engineering also has the concept of a system that refers to all of the
parts and interactions between parts of a complex project. Systems engineering refers to the branch of engineering
that studies how this type of system should be planned, designed, implemented, built, and maintained.

Systems in social and cognitive sciences and management research

Social and cognitive sciences recognize systems in human person models and in human societies. They include human
brain functions and human mental processes as well as normative ethics systems and social/cultural behavioral

In management science, operations research and organizational development (OD), human organizations are viewed
as systems (conceptual systems) of interacting components such as subsystems or system aggregates, which are
carriers of numerous complex business processes (organizational behaviors) and organizational structures.
Organizational development theorist Peter Senge developed the notion of organizations as systems in his book The
Fifth Discipline.

Systems thinking is a style of thinking/reasoning and problem solving. It starts from the recognition of system
properties in a given problem. It can be a leadership competency. Some people can think globally while acting locally.
Such people consider the potential consequences of their decisions on other parts of larger systems. This is also a basis
of systemic coaching in psychology.
Organizational theorists such as Margaret Wheatley have also described the workings of organizational systems in new
metaphoric contexts, such as quantum physics, chaos theory, and the self-organization of systems.

Pure logical systems

There is also such a thing as a logical system. The most obvious example is the calculus developed simultaneously by
Leibniz and Isaac Newton. Another example is George Boole's Boolean operators. Other examples have related
specifically to philosophy, biology, or cognitive science. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs applies psychology to biology by
using pure logic. Numerous psychologists, including Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud have developed systems which
logically organize psychological domains, such as personalities, motivations, or intellect and desire. Often these
domains consist of general categories following a Corollary such as a Theorem. Logic has been applied to categories
such as Taxonomy, Ontology, Assessment, and Hierarchies.

Systems applied to strategic thinking

In 1988, military strategist, John A. Warden III introduced the Five Ring System model in his book, The Air
Campaign, contending that any complex system could be broken down into five concentric rings. Each ring -
Leadership, Processes, Infrastructure, Population and Action Units - could be used to isolate key elements of any
system that needed change. The model was used effectively by Air Force planners in the First Gulf War.[15][16][17] In the
late 1990s, Warden applied his model to business strategy.[18]

See also
Examples of systems Information system Related topics
List of systems (WikiProject) Solar System Glossary of systems theory
Physical system Systems in human anatomy Complexity theory and organizations
Conceptual system Market Black box
Complex system Thermodynamic systems System of systems (engineering)
Formal system Systems art

1. "Definition of system" ( Merriam-Webster. Springfield, MA,
USA. Retrieved 2016-10-09.
2. "" (
2Fsthma), Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A GreekEnglish Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library.
3. Marshall McLuhan in: McLuhan: Hot & Cool. Ed. by Gerald Emanuel Stearn. A Signet Book published by The
New American Library, New York, 1967, p. 288.
4. McLuhan, Marshall (2014). "4: The Hot and Cool Interview". In Moos, Michel. Media Research: Technology, Art
and Communication: Critical Voices in Art, Theory and Culture (
AJ). Critical Voices in Art, Theory and Culture. Routledge. p. 74. ISBN 9781134393145. Retrieved 2015-05-06.
"'System' means 'something to look at'. You must have a very high visual gradient to have systematization. In
philosophy, before Descartes, there was no 'system.' Plato had no 'system.' Aristotle had no 'system.'"
5. 1945, Zu einer allgemeinen Systemlehre, Bltter fr deutsche Philosophie, 3/4. (Extract in: Biologia Generalis, 19
(1949), 139164.
6. 1948, Cybernetics: Or the Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. Paris, France: Librairie
Hermann & Cie, and Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
7. 1956. An Introduction to Cybernetics (, Chapman & Hall.
8. IBM's definition @
9. Steiss, 1967, pp. 818.
10. Bailey, 1994.
11. Buckley, 1967.
12. Banathy, 1997.
13. Klir, 1969, pp. 6972
14. Checkland, 1997; Flood, 1999.
15. Warden, John A. III (1988). The Air Campaign: Planning for Combat. Washington, D.C.: National Defense
University Press. ISBN 978-1-58348-100-4.
16. Warden, John A. III (September 1995). "Chapter 4: Air theory for the 21st century". Battlefield of the Future: 21st
Century Warfare Issues ( (in Air and Space
Power Journal). United States Air Force. Retrieved December 26, 2008.
17. Warden, John A. III (1995). "Enemy as a System" (
5_files/warden.htm). Airpower Journal. Spring (9): 4055. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
18. Russell, Leland A.; Warden, John A. (2001). Winning in FastTime: Harness the Competitive Advantage of
Prometheus in Business and in Life. Newport Beach, CA: GEO Group Press. ISBN 0-9712697-1-8.

Alexander Backlund (2000). "The definition of Robert L. Flood (1999). Rethinking the Fifth
system". In: Kybernetes Vol. 29 nr. 4, pp. 444451. Discipline: Learning within the unknowable. London:
Kenneth D. Bailey (1994). Sociology and the New Routledge.
Systems Theory: Toward a Theoretical Synthesis. George J. Klir (1969). Approach to General Systems
New York: State of New York Press. Theory, 1969.
Bela H. Banathy (1997). "A Taste of Systemics" (htt Brian Wilson (1980). Systems: Concepts,
p://, methodologies and Applications, John Wiley
ISSS The Primer Project. Brian Wilson (2001). Soft Systems Methodology
Walter F. Buckley (1967). Sociology and Modern Conceptual model building and its contribution,
Systems Theory, New Jersey: Englewood Cliffs. J.H.Wiley.
Peter Checkland (1997). Systems Thinking, Systems Beynon-Davies P. (2009). Business Information +
Practice. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Systems. Palgrave, Basingstoke. ISBN 978-0-230-
Michel Crozier, Erhard Friedberg (1981). Actors and 20368-6
Systems, Chicago University Press.

External links
Definitions of Systems and Models ( by Michael Pidwirny,
Publications with the title "System" (16002008) (
ystem%281556-2001%29.htm) by Roland Mller.
Definitionen von "System" (15722002) (
nitionen.htm) by Roland Mller, (most in German).

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