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Systems science

veloped into many theoretical frameworks.


PARTS

SOCIETY

NEEDS

MEANS
WHOLES
INDIVIDUALS

Systems notes of Henk Bikker, TU Delft, 1991


Impression of systems thinking about society.

Systems analysis Systems analysis is the branch of systems science that analyzes systems, the interactions
Systems science - systemology (greco.

within those systems, and/or interaction with its


- systema, - logos) or systems theory is an
environment,[4] often prior to their automation as
interdisciplinary eld that studies the nature of systems
computer models. This eld is closely related to
from simple to complexin nature, society, and science
operations research.
itself. The eld aims to develop interdisciplinary foundations that are applicable in a variety of areas, such as Systems design Systems design is the process of esengineering, biology, medicine, and social sciences.[1]
tablishing and specifying the optimum system component conguration for achieving specic goal or
Systems science covers formal sciences such as complex
objective.[4] For example in computing, systems
systems, cybernetics, dynamical systems theory, and
design can dene the hardware and systems architecsystems theory, and applications in the eld of the natural
ture which includes many sub-architectures includand social sciences and engineering, such as control theing software architecture, components, modules, inory, operations research, social systems theory, systems
terfaces, and data, as well as security, information,
biology, systems dynamics, human factors, systems ecol[2]
and others, for a computer system to satisfy speciogy, systems engineering and systems psychology.
ed requirements.
Themes commonly stressed in system science are (a)
holistic view, (b) interaction between a system and its embedding environment, and (c) complex (often subtle) tra- System dynamics System dynamics is an approach to
understanding the behavior of complex systems over
jectories of dynamic behavior that sometimes are stable
time. It oers simulation technique for modeling
(and thus reinforcing), while at various 'boundary condibusiness and social systems,[5] which deals with intions can become wildly unstable (and thus destructive).
ternal feedback loops and time delays that aect the
Concerns about Earth-scale biosphere/geosphere dynambehavior of the entire system. What makes using
ics is an example of the nature of problems to which syssystem dynamics dierent from other approaches
tems science seeks to contribute meaningful insights.
to studying complex systems is the use of feedback
loops and stocks and ows.

Theories

Systems engineering Systems engineering (SE) is an


interdisciplinary eld of engineering, that focuses
Since the emergence of general systems research in the
on the development and organization of complex
1950s,[3] systems thinking and systems science have desystems. It is the art and science of creating
1

2 FIELDS
whole solutions to complex problems,[6] for example: signal processing systems, control systems and
communication system, or other forms of high-level
modelling and design in specic elds of engineering.

Systems methodologies There are several types of Systems Methodologies, that is, disciplines for analysis
of systems. For example:
Soft systems methodology (SSM) : in the eld
of organizational studies is an approach to organisational process modelling, and it can be
used both for general problem solving and in
the management of change. It was developed
in England by academics at the University of
Lancaster Systems Department through a tenyear Action Research programme.
System development methodology (SDM) in
the eld of IT development is a general term
applied to a variety of structured, organized
processes for developing information technology and embedded software systems.
Viable systems approach (vSa) is a methodology useful for the understanding and governance of complex phenomena; it has been successfully proposed in the eld of management,
decision making, marketing and service.
Systems theories Systems theory is an interdisciplinary
eld that studies complex systems in nature, society,
and science. More specically, it is a conceptual
framework by which one can analyze and/or describe any group of objects that work in concert to
produce some result.
Systems science Systems sciences are scientic disciplines partly based on systems thinking such as
chaos theory, complex systems, control theory,
cybernetics, sociotechnical systems theory, systems
biology, systems ecology, systems psychology and
the already mentioned systems dynamics, systems
engineering, and systems theory.

Cybernetics
Biocybernetics
Engineering cybernetics
Management cybernetics
Medical cybernetics
New Cybernetics
Second-order cybernetics
Control theory
Aect control theory
Control engineering
Control systems
Dynamical systems
Perceptual control theory
Earth system science
Systems geology
Operations research
Systems biology
Computational systems biology
Synthetic biology
Systems immunology
Systems neuroscience
System dynamics
Social dynamics
Systems ecology
Ecosystem ecology
Systems engineering
Biological systems engineering
Earth systems engineering and management
Enterprise systems engineering
Systems analysis

Fields

Systems theory in anthropology


Systems psychology

Systems sciences cover formal sciences like dynamical


systems theory and applications in the natural and social
sciences and engineering, such as social systems theory
and systems dynamics.
Chaos theory
Conceptual systems
Complex systems
Complex system

Ergonomics
Family systems theory
Systemic therapy
Systems theory
Biochemical systems theory
Ecological systems theory
Developmental systems theory
General systems theory

3
Living systems theory
LTI system theory
Sociotechnical systems theory
Mathematical system theory

and educational agency founded in 1981, and constituted


of some thirty member organizations from various countries. The overall purpose of this Federation is to advance
cybernetic and systems research and systems applications
and to serve the international systems community.

The best known research institute in the eld is the Santa


Fe Institute (SFI) located in Santa Fe, New Mexico,
United States, dedicated to the study of complex systems.
This institute was founded in 1984 by George Cowan,
3 Systems scientists
David Pines, Stirling Colgate, Murray Gell-Mann, Nick
Metropolis, Herb Anderson, Peter A. Carruthers, and
Main article: List of systems scientists
Richard Slansky. All but Pines and Gell-Mann were
scientists with Los Alamos National Laboratory. SFIs
original
mission was to disseminate the notion of a sepGeneral systems scientists can be divided into dierarate
interdisciplinary
research area, complexity theory
ent generations. The founders of the systems movement
referred
to
at
SFI
as
complexity
science.
like Ludwig von Bertalany, Kenneth Boulding, Ralph
Gerard, James Grier Miller, George J. Klir, and Anatol
Rapoport were all born between 1900 and 1920. They all
came from dierent natural and social science disciplines 5 See also
and joined forces in the 1950s to establish the general
systems theory paradigm. Along with the organization of
Antireductionism
their eorts a rst generation of systems scientists rose.
List of systems sciences organizations
Among them were other scientists like Acko, Ashby,
Margaret Mead and Churchman, who popularized the
List of systems scientists
systems concept in the 1950s and 1960s. These scientists
Principia Cybernetica
inspired and educated a second generation with more notable scientists like Ervin Laszlo (1932) and Fritjof Capra
System engineering
(1939), who wrote about systems theory in the 1970s and
1980s. Others got acquainted and started studying these
Systemics
works in the 1980s and started writing about it since the
System equivalence
1990s. Debora Hammond can be seen as a typical representative of these third generation of general systems
Systems theory
scientists.
Systems theory in anthropology
World-systems theory

Organizations

Main article: List of systems sciences organizations


The International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS)
is an organisation for interdisciplinary collaboration and
synthesis of systems sciences. The ISSS is unique among
systems-oriented institutions in terms of the breadth of its
scope, bringing together scholars and practitioners from
academic, business, government, and non-prot organizations. Based on fty years of tremendous interdisciplinary research from the scientic study of complex systems to interactive approaches in management and community development. This society was initially conceived
in 1954 at the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the
Behavioral Sciences by Ludwig von Bertalany, Kenneth
Boulding, Ralph Gerard, and Anatol Rapoport.
In the eld of systems science the International Federation for Systems Research (IFSR) is an international federation for global and local societies in the eld of systems science. This federation is a non-prot, scientic

Systems theory in archaeology


Systems theory in political science
Tektology
World-systems theory

6 References
[1] Philip M'Pherson (1974, p. 229); as cited by: Hieronymi,
A. (2013), Understanding Systems Science: A Visual and
Integrative Approach. Syst. Res.. doi:10.1002/sres.2215.
He dened systems science as the ordered arrangement
of knowledge acquired from the study of systems in the
observable world, together with the application of this
knowledge to the design of man-made systems.
[2] According to Francis Heylighen in What are Cybernetics and Systems Science?" on Principia Cybernetica
Web (1999) systems science is an "academic domain,
that touches virtually all traditional disciplines, from
mathematics, technology and biology to philosophy and
the social sciences.

[3] Robert L. Flood (1993) Dealing with Complexity: : An


Introduction to the Theory and Application of Systems Science. p. 3
[4] Anthony Debons. Command and Control: Technology
and Social Impact in: Advances in computers, Vol. 11.
Franz L. Alt & Morris Rubino eds. (1971). p. 362
[5] Center for Complex Adaptive Agent Systems Simulation
Argonne National Laboratory (2007) Managing Business
Complexity : Discovering Strategic Solutions with AgentBased Modeling and Simulation: Discovering Strategic Solutions with Agent-Based Modeling and Simulation. Oxford University Press. p. 55
[6] Derek K. Hitchins (2008) Systems Engineering: A 21st
Century Systems Methodology. p. 100

Further reading
B. A. Bayraktar, Education in Systems Science, 1979,
369 pp.
Kenneth D. Bailey, Fifty Years of Systems
Science:Further Reections, Systems Research and
Behavioral Science, 22, 2005, pp.
355361.
doi:10.1002/sres.711
Robert L. Flood, Ewart R Carson, Dealing with
Complexity: An Introduction to the Theory and Application of Systems Science, 1988.
George J. Klir, Facets of Systems Science, Plenum
Press, 1991.
Ervin Lszl, Systems Science and World Order: Selected Studies, 1983.
G. E. Mobus & M. C. Kalton, Principles of Systems
Science, 2015, New York:Springer.
Anatol Rapoport (ed.), General Systems: Yearbook
of the Society for the Advancement of General Systems Theory, Society for General Systems Research,
Vol 1., 1956.
Li D. Xu, The contributions of Systems Science to
Information Systems Research, Systems Research
and Behavioral Science, 17, 2000, pp. 105116.
Graeme Donald Snooks, A general theory of complex living systems: Exploring the demand side of
dynamics, Complexity, vol. 13, no. 6, July/August
2008.
John N. Wareld, A proposal for Systems Science,
Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 20, 2003,
pp. 507520. doi:10.1002/sres.528

EXTERNAL LINKS

8 External links
Principia Cybernetica Web
International Society for the System Sciences
UK Systems Society

Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses

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