‘System’ in Systems Science


A system in systems science refers to a set of interconnected and interdependent components that work together to achieve a common goal or purpose. Systems can exist in various forms, from natural ecosystems to human-made organizations, and they are characterized by the interactions and relationships among their components.

Key Characteristics:


  • Systems are composed of elements or components that interact and influence each other. These components can be tangible entities, processes, or even abstract concepts.


  • Interactions and relationships among the components define the structure of a system. These interconnections often involve feedback loops, where the output of one component influences the input of another.


  • Systems have boundaries that distinguish them from their environment. The boundary defines what is considered part of the system and what lies outside of it.

Purpose or Goal:

  • Systems are designed or naturally evolve to fulfill a purpose or achieve a goal. Understanding the objectives of a system is crucial for analyzing its structure and behavior.



  • An ecosystem is a natural system composed of living organisms (flora and fauna), physical elements (soil, water), and their interactions within a specific environment.

Business Organization:

  • A business organization is a human-made system with components such as employees, departments, and processes working together to achieve common business objectives.

Solar System:

  • The solar system is a celestial system consisting of the sun, planets, moons, and other celestial bodies, all bound together by gravitational interactions.

Mathematical Representation:

Mathematical models, diagrams, and simulations are often used to represent the structure and behavior of systems. Systems thinking involves understanding how variables and components interact over time.

Significance in Systems Thinking:

The concept of a system is foundational in systems thinking, which involves analyzing and understanding the relationships and dynamics within and between systems. Systems thinking encourages a holistic approach to problem-solving and decision-making.



  • Systems can be highly complex, with numerous components and interactions, making it challenging to fully understand and predict their behavior.

Dynamic Nature:

  • Systems are dynamic and can evolve over time. This dynamic nature adds an additional layer of complexity when trying to model and analyze systems.

Application in Various Disciplines:

  • Engineering: Systems engineering involves designing and optimizing complex systems, considering both their components and the interactions between them.
  • Ecology: Ecological systems thinking is essential for understanding the dynamics of ecosystems, including the relationships between different species and environmental factors.
  • Management: Systems thinking is applied in management to analyze and optimize organizational structures and processes.


  1. Checkland, P. (1981). Systems Thinking, Systems Practice.
  2. Meadows, D. H. (2008). Thinking in Systems: A Primer.

This wiki entry provides an overview of the concept of a system in systems science, outlining its key characteristics, examples, significance in systems thinking, challenges, potential mathematical representation, and applications across various disciplines.