Portal:Systems science

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The systems science portal

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.

Selected article

Ecological analysis of CO-2 in an ecosystem.

Systems ecology is an interdisciplinary field of ecology, taking a holistic approach to the study of ecological systems, especially ecosystems. Systems ecology can be seen as an application of general systems theory to ecology. Central to the systems ecology approach is the idea that an ecosystem is a complex system exhibiting emergent properties.

Systems ecology focuses on interactions and transactions within and between biological and ecological systems, and is especially concerned with the way the functioning of ecosystems can be influenced by human interventions. It uses and extends concepts from thermodynamics and develops other macroscopic descriptions of complex systems.

Selected picture

Specification of an Aircraft System.jpg

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a means of organizing system development activities based on system and product decompositions. The systems engineering process produces system and product descriptions. These product architectures, together with associated services (e.g., program management, systems engineering, etc.) are organized and depicted in a hierarchical tree-like structure that is the WBS.

Selected systems scientist

Eberhardt Rechtin.jpg

Eberhardt Rechtin (1926–2006) was an American systems engineer and respected authority in aerospace systems and systems architecture. He received both his BS (1946) and PhD (1950) degrees from Caltech. He worked at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory from 1948-1967, holding, among other positions, that of chief architect and director of the NASA Deep Space Network.

He became the Director of DARPA in 1967, and stayed in the Defense Department as Assistant Secretary for Telecommunications. He was president and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation from 1977–1987. In 1987, he left Aerospace to found the systems architecture graduate program at the University of Southern California, from which he retired.


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".



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