Portal:Systems science

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Complex adaptive system.svg
Complex systems approach

Systems science is an interdisciplinary field that studies the nature of systems—from simple to complex—in nature, society, cognition, engineering, technology and science itself. To systems scientists, the world can be understood as a system of systems. The field aims to develop interdisciplinary foundations that are applicable in a variety of areas, such as psychology, biology, medicine, communication, business management, engineering, and social sciences.

Systems science covers formal sciences such as complex systems, cybernetics, dynamical systems theory, information theory, linguistics or systems theory. It has applications in the field of the natural and social sciences and engineering, such as control theory, operations research, social systems theory, systems biology, system dynamics, human factors, systems ecology, systems engineering and systems psychology. Themes commonly stressed in system science are (a) holistic view, (b) interaction between a system and its embedding environment, and (c) complex (often subtle) trajectories of dynamic behavior that sometimes are stable (and thus reinforcing), while at various 'boundary conditions' can become wildly unstable (and thus destructive). Concerns about Earth-scale biosphere/geosphere dynamics is an example of the nature of problems to which systems science seeks to contribute meaningful insights.


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The Sun and planets
(distances not to scale)

The Solar System is the gravitationally bound system of the Sun and the objects that orbit it, either directly or indirectly. Of the objects that orbit the Sun directly, the largest are the eight planets, with the remainder being smaller objects, the dwarf planets and small Solar System bodies. Of the objects that orbit the Sun indirectly—the natural satellites—two are larger than the smallest planet, Mercury, and one more almost equals it in size.

The Solar System formed 4.6 billion years ago from the gravitational collapse of a giant interstellar molecular cloud. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun, with the majority of the remaining mass contained in Jupiter. The four smaller inner system planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, are terrestrial planets, being primarily composed of rock and metal. The four outer system planets are giant planets, being substantially more massive than the terrestrials. The two largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are gas giants, being composed mainly of hydrogen and helium; the two outermost planets, Uranus and Neptune, are ice giants, being composed mostly of substances with relatively high melting points compared with hydrogen and helium, called volatiles, such as water, ammonia and methane. All eight planets have almost circular orbits that lie within a nearly flat disc called the ecliptic. (Full article...)

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Lorenz attractor yb.svg


The Lorenz attractor is a 3-dimensional structure corresponding to the long-term behavior of a chaotic flow, noted for its butterfly shape. The map shows how the state of a dynamical system (the three variables of a three-dimensional system) evolves over time in a complex, non-repeating pattern.

The attractor itself, and the equations from which it is derived, were introduced by Edward Lorenz in 1963, who derived it from the simplified equations of convection rolls arising in the equations of the atmosphere.

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Herbert Alexander Simon (June 15, 1916 – February 9, 2001) was an American economist, computer scientist, political scientist and cognitive psychologist, whose primary research interest was decision-making within organizations and is best known for the theories of "bounded rationality" and "satisficing". He received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1978 and the Turing Award in computer science in 1975. His research was noted for its interdisciplinary nature and spanned across the fields of cognitive science, computer science, public administration, management, and political science. He was at Carnegie Mellon University for most of his career, from 1949 to 2001.

Notably, Simon was among the pioneers of several modern-day scientific domains such as artificial intelligence, information processing, decision-making, problem-solving, organization theory, and complex systems. He was among the earliest to analyze the architecture of complexity and to propose a preferential attachment mechanism to explain power law distributions. (Full article...)

Did you know

  • ... 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 ecologist Howard T. Odum in 1950 gave a novel definition of ecology as the study of large entities (ecosystems) at the "natural level of integration".
  • ... that the Yugoslavian Mihajlo D. Mesarovic in 1970s wanted to provide a unified and formalized mathematical approach to all major systems concepts.
  • ... * and next a science of action, called "Interactive management".

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