On Systems

All of the systems have common elements. By looking for these characteristics, and using these characteristics when studying the systems of interest, technologists, scientists, and engineers can more quickly solve problems and design solutions.

Order. All systems are recognized by some sort of order, parts and boundaries can be recognized and measured. Order also gives rise to laws or principles; laws or principles can be imagined as rules that systems cannot violate.

Hierarchy. All systems have multiple layers of order. If one looks closely, one may find systems within each level of hierarchy.

Interactions. Different parts of the system affect other part, and the “outside” affects a system, and the system affects the “outside.” (These quotations marks are used because boundaries to any system are artificial, defined by the researcher to make the job of understanding the system manageable.)

Emergent properties. Although made of parts, a system can also be understood and studied as a whole. The properties of the system cannot always be predicted from the parts.