A system is an object made up by a set of parts among which some form of relationship is stablished. The relationship articulates the parts in a unit, which is precisely the system.
1st Stop – A system is an object, we can treat it as a unit, it is in fact a unit. The only difference with classical objects, the ones we are used to, is the fact that we don’t detect systems straight through the senses, we have to think them.
2nd Stop – The system forms a group. By gathering we are very likely easing descriptions, just because we have less to describe.
3rd Stop – The parts of a system are related among them. The group is not explained by any common feature, but is rather operational: we group together those pieces among which we observe a certain relation, those pieces intervening in a specified process.
Group: number 38 shoes; white coffee cups; mammals…
System: a football team may be seen as a system (it may be useful for us to see it as a system in order to study specific events, e.g. a football match) because it is made up by a set of parts and there is an interaction among them.
After the first three stops we have a system as an operatively oriented group.
Parts and interactions are key elements under this approach to systems.
Let’s go ahead.
The system is perceived as something possessing an entity that allows it to differentiate from the environment, but with whom it has a continuous relation. The identity (entity) is maintained through time and under different environmental conditions.
4th Stop – The system shows identity by keeping stable in a changing environment.
5th Stop – Every system has a purpose, and it’s going to be the purpose the one deciding what is relevant and what is not, inside and outside. It is in its own nature to focus just in what it needs to be explained.
Finishing. Purpose guides the formation and identity of systems through time.
Some of the definitions of this post are from the book Dinámica de Sistemas, by Javier Aracil and Francisco Gordillo, Ed. Alianza Universidad Textos, 1997