Systems Science

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This Knowledge Area (KA) provides a guide to the major developments in systems science which is an interdisciplinary field of science that studies the nature of complex systems in nature, society, and science. Grounded in systems thinking, and based on theory and practice, it aims to develop interdisciplinary foundations applicable in a variety of areas, such as engineering , biology, medicine and social sciences. This knowledge is not specific to systems engineering , but is part of a wider systems body of knowledge. Not all system knowledge is captured here - only those aspects relevant to the SEBoK.

To download a PDF of all of Part 2 (including this knowledge area), please click here.


The topics contained within this knowledge area include:

Development of System Theory

systems thinking is an approach to understanding or intervening in systems, based on the principles and concepts of systems. The Systems Thinking KA offers definitions of systems thinking and the systems theory which supports it.

The development of these theoretical ideas to a point where they can be considered part of the cannon of systems thinking is like any other branch of science - not a straight forward or linear process. general system theory (GST) (von Bertalanffy, 1968) enables comparisons between systems that rely on different technologies, judging the goodness or completeness of a system, and developing domain-independent systems approaches which can form the basis of disciplines such as Systems Engineering. While many researchers and practitioners have created GST concepts, these tend to be a stepping stone to theories and approaches. This situation is made worse by the variety of domains and disciplines in which systems research is conducted and reported.

While the Concepts of Systems Thinking presented in the Systems Thinking Knowledge Area is a powerful set of ideas for better understanding all kinds of systems, it is neither rigorous nor complete.

This Knowledge area describes the most important movements in Systems Science and presents a guide to the overlapping and sometimes contradictory theories it has created and used.


Works Cited

Bertalanffy, L. von. 1968. General System Theory: Foundations, Development, Applications, Revised ed. New York, NY, USA: Braziller.

Primary References

Checkland, P. 1999. Systems Thinking, Systems Practice. New York, NY, USA: John Wiley & Sons.

Bertalanffy, L. von. 1968. General System Theory: Foundations, Development, Applications, Revised ed. New York, NY, USA: Braziller.

Flood, R.L. 1999. Rethinking the Fifth Discipline: Learning within the Unknowable. London, UK: Routledge.

Additional References

No additional references have been identified for version 0.75. Please provide any recommendations on additional references in your review.

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SEBoK v. 1.9.1 released 30 September 2018

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