When defining what systems are, the first thing that comes to mind is how often people use the word: system. All kind of professions and knowledge domains denote different meanings to this concept used in daily language. Engineers frequently talk about systems when they review designs or analyse technical equipment, e.g. the propulsion system of a ship. Computer experts point to information and communication systems. Biologists see the oceans as ecological systems. In addition, many consider organisations as systems. Hence, the word systems refers to objects (discrete systems) as well as purposeful constructs of the mind that are abstract in exchange between people, like the concept of an organisation as a system. Distinguishing systems within reality helps to create, to describe and to analyse. To support the analysis of problems and to generate solutions, this chapter will define systems, discuss their properties and expand on their application in the domain of technical design, biology and organisations, but knowing that the principles are applicable to many (scientific) disciplines.
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