A system is a set of interacting or interdependent components forming an integrated whole or a set of elements (often called 'components' ) and relationships which are different from relationships of the set or its elements to other elements or sets.
Fields that study the general properties of systems include systems theory, cybernetics, dynamical systems, thermodynamics, and complex systems. They investigate the abstract properties of systems' matter and organization, looking for concepts and principles that are independent of domain, substance, type, or temporal scale.
Some systems share common characteristics, including:
- A system has structure, it contains parts (or components) that are directly or indirectly related to each other;
- A system has behavior, it contains processes that transform inputs into outputs (material, energy or data);
- A system has interconnectivity: the parts and processes are connected by structural and/or behavioral relationships.
- A system's structure and behavior may be decomposed via subsystems and sub-processes to elementary parts and process steps.
The term system may also refer to a set of rules that governs structure and/or behavior. Alternatively, and usually in the context of complex social systems, the term institution is used to describe the set of rules that govern structure and/or behavior.
Famous quotes containing the word system:
“He is not a true man of science who does not bring some sympathy to his studies, and expect to learn something by behavior as well as by application. It is childish to rest in the discovery of mere coincidences, or of partial and extraneous laws. The study of geometry is a petty and idle exercise of the mind, if it is applied to no larger system than the starry one.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“It is not easy to construct by mere scientific synthesis a foolproof system which will lead our children in a desired direction and avoid an undesirable one. Obviously, good can come only from a continuing interplay between that which we, as students, are gradually learning and that which we believe in, as people.”
—Erik H. Erikson (20th century)
“A religion so cheerless, a philosophy so sorrowful, could never have succeeded with the masses of mankind if presented only as a system of metaphysics. Buddhism owed its success to its catholic spirit and its beautiful morality.”
—W. Winwood Reade (18381875)