Portal:Systems science

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The Systems Science Portal

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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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Electron microscope image of a single neutrophil (yellow), engulfing anthrax bacteria (orange).

An immune system is a collection of mechanisms within an organism that protects against infection by identifying and killing pathogens and tumor cells. It detects a wide variety of pathogens, such as viruses and parasitic worms and distinguishes them from the organism's normal cells and tissues. Detection is complicated as pathogens adapt and evolve new ways to successfully infect the host organism.

To survive this challenge, several mechanisms have evolved that recognize and neutralize pathogens. Even simple unicellular organisms such as bacteria possess enzyme systems that protect against viral infections. Other basic immune mechanisms evolved in ancient eukaryotes and remain in their modern descendants, such as plants, fish, reptiles, and insects. These mechanisms include antimicrobial peptides called defensins, pattern recognition receptors, and the complement system. More sophisticated mechanisms, however, developed relatively recently, with the evolution of vertebrates.

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Systems engineering application projects collage.jpg


Systems engineering techniques are used in complex projects: from spacecrafts to chip design, from robotics to creating large software products to building bridges, Systems engineering uses a host of tools that include modeling & simulation, requirements analysis, and scheduling to manage complexity.

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Selected systems scientist

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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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 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".



...Archive

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Science portal on Wikinews     Systems scientists on Wikiquote     Systems on Wikibooks     Systems on Wikicommons     Systems theory on Wiktionary     Wikiversity School of Science
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