Portal:Systems science

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Complex systems approach

Systems are sets of entities, physical or abstract, comprising a whole where each component interacts with or is related to at least one other component and they all serve a common objective. The scientific research field which is engaged in the interdisciplinary study of universal system-based properties of the world is general system theory, systems science and recently systemics. This field investigates the abstract properties of matter and mind, and their organization, searching for concepts and principles which are independent of the specific domain, substance, and type of system, and of the spatial and/or temporal scales of its existence.

Systems science can be viewed as ... "a metalanguage of concepts and models for interdisciplinary use, still now evolving and far from being stabilized. This is the result of a slow process of accretion through inclusion and interconnection of many notions, which came and are still coming from very different disciplines. The process started more than a century ago, but has gathered momentum since 1948 through the pioneering work of Norbert Wiener, John von Neumann, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Heinz von Foerster and W. Ross Ashby, among many others" (Charles François, 1999).

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Management cybernetics is the field of cybernetics concerned with management and organizations. The notion of cybernetics and management was first introduced by Stafford Beer in the late 1950s.

Management cybernetics is the concrete application of natural cybernetic laws to all types of organizations and institutions created by human beings, and to the interactions within them and between them. It is a theory based on natural laws. It addresses the issues that every individual who wants to influence an organization in any way must learn to resolve. This theory is not restricted to the actions of top managers. Every member of an organization and every person who to a greater or lesser extent communicates or interacts with it is involved in the considerations.

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Chicago Downtown Aerial View.jpg


An aerial view of a human ecosystem. Pictured is the city of Chicago.

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W. Ross Ashby (September 6, 1903, London - November 15, 1972) was an English psychiatrist and a pioneer in cybernetics, the study of complex systems. His first name was never used, and generally, he was called 'Ross Ashby'.

Despite being widely influential within cybernetics, systems theory and, more recently, complex systems, he is not nearly as well known as many of the notable scientists his work influenced including Herbert A. Simon, Norbert Wiener, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Stafford Beer and Stuart Kauffman.

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  • ...that a successful experimental system must be stable and reproducible enough for scientists to make sense of the system's behavior, but unpredictable enough that it can produce useful results?
  • ... that the American systems scientist John Nelson Warfield found systems science to consist of a hierarchy of sciences.
    • Beginning at the base, with a science of description,
    • continuing vertically with a science of design,
    • then a science of complexity,
    • and next a science of action, called "Interactive management".



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