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Über dieses Buch

This book has a rather strange history. It began in spring 1989, thirteen years after our Systems Science Department at SUNY-Binghamton was established, when I was asked by a group of students in our doctoral program to have a meeting with them. The spokesman of the group, Cliff Joslyn, opened our meeting by stating its purpose. I can closely paraphrase what he said: "We called this meeting to discuss with you, as Chairman of the Department, a fundamental problem with our systems science curriculum. In general, we consider it a good curriculum: we learn a lot of concepts, principles, and methodological tools, mathematical, computational, heu­ ristic, which are fundamental to understanding and dealing with systems. And, yet, we learn virtually nothing about systems science itself. What is systems science? What are its historical roots? What are its aims? Where does it stand and where is it likely to go? These are pressing questions to us. After all, aren't we supposed to carry the systems science flag after we graduate from this program? We feel that a broad introductory course to systems science is urgently needed in the curriculum. Do you agree with this assessment?" The answer was obvious and, yet, not easy to give: "I agree, of course, but I do not see how the situation could be alleviated in the foreseeable future.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Systems Science: A Guided Tour

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. What Is Systems Science?

Abstract
An inevitable prerequisite for this book, as implied by its title, is a presupposition that systems science is a legitimate field of scientific inquiry. It is self-evident that I, as the author of this book, consider this presupposition valid. Otherwise, clearly, I would not conceive of writing the book in the first place.
George J. Klir

Chapter 2. More about Systems

Abstract
The common-sense definition, as expressed by Eq. (1.1), looks overly simple Its simplicity, however, is only on the surface. That is, the definition is simple in its form, but it contains symbols, T and R, that are extremely rich in content. Indeed, T stands for any imaginable set of things of any kind, and R stands for any conceivable relation defined on T. To appreciate the range of possible meanings of these symbols, let us explore some examples.
George J. Klir

Chapter 3. Systems Movement

Abstract
Systems science is a phenomenon of the second half of the 20th century. It developed within a movement that is usually referred to as systems movement. In general, systems movement may be characterized as a loose association of people from different disciplines of science, engineering, philosophy, and other areas, who share a common interest in ideas (concepts, principles, methods, etc.) that are applicable to all systems and that, consequently, transcend the boundaries between traditional disciplines.
George J. Klir

Chapter 4. Conceptual Frameworks

Abstract
To characterize the domain of systems science more specifically requires a conceptual framework within which systems are characterized. Each framework determines a scope of systemhood properties that can be described within it and leads to some specific systemhood-based taxonomy of systems. To capture the full scope of systemhood phenomena that we are currently able to envision, a comprehensive framework is needed.
George J. Klir

Chapter 5. Systems Methodology

Abstract
Systems methodology is understood in this book as a family of coherent collections of methods for dealing with the various systems problems that emanate from the conceptual framework employed.* Thus, for example, one systems methodology is based upon the GSPS framework outlined in Chap. 4. Systems methodologies based upon different but equally general conceptual frameworks are capable of covering, by and large, the same class of problems. With some adjustment, methods developed under one framework can usually be converted into methods for dealing with comparable systems problems under another framework.
George J. Klir

Chapter 6. Systems Metamethodology

Abstract
As argued previously, the principal aim of systems science is to understand the phenomenon of systemhood as completely as possible. The first step in achieving this aim is to divide the whole spectrum of conceivable systems into significant categories. The second step is to study the individual categories of systems and their relationship, and to organize the categories into a coherent whole. The third step is to study systems problems that emerge from the underlying set of organized systems categories. Finally, we address methodological issues regarding the various types of systems problems.
George J. Klir

Chapter 7. Systems Knowledge

Abstract
In every traditional discipline of science, we develop systems models of various phenomena of the real world. Each of these models, when properly validated, represents some specific knowledge regarding the relevant domain of inquiry. In systems science, the domain of inquiry consists of knowledge structures themselves—the various categories of systems that emerge from the conceptual framework employed. That is, the objects of investigation in systems science are not objects of reality, but systems of certain specific types.
George J. Klir

Chapter 8. Complexity

Abstract
Complexity is perhaps as important a concept for systems science as the concept of a system. It is a difficult concept, primarily because it has many possible meanings. While various specific meanings of complexity have been proposed and discussed on many occasions, there is virtually no sufficiently comprehensive study that attempts to capture its general characteristics. The reason for this situation is well expressed by John Casti [1986]:
The notion of system complexity is much like St. Augustine’s description of time: “What then is time [complexity]? If no one asks me, I know; if I wish to explain it to one that asks, I know not.” There seems to be fairly well-developed intuitive ideas about what constitutes a complex system, but attempts to axiomatize and formalize this sense of the complex all leave a vague, uneasy feeling of basic incompleteness, and a sense of failure to grasp important aspects of the essential nature of the problem.
George J. Klir

Chapter 9. Simplification Strategies

Abstract
In some contexts, complexity is a desirable property, i.e., we search, within given constraints, for systems with a high degree of complexity. Cryptography and the design of random number generators are two typical examples of such contexts. In some situations, a certain degree of complexity is a necessary condition for obtaining some specific systems properties, usually referred to as emergent properties. Self-reproduction, learning, and evolution are examples of such properties.
George J. Klir

Chapter 10. Goal-Oriented Systems

Abstract
Literature dealing with various issues that emanate from recognized categories of goal-oriented systems is voluminous and growing rapidly. The subject of goal-orientation does not always appear in the literature under this general and neutral term. More frequently, it is discussed under other names, which designate special types of goal-orientation. Typical examples are: regulation, control, self-organization, learning, autopoiesis, self-reproduction, self--correction, adaptation, evolution. No attempt is made in this chapter to cover this broad subject comprehensively since each of the special types of goal-orientation alone could easily occupy a whole book. Instead, the focus here is on a few key concepts and issues pertaining to goal-oriented systems.
George J. Klir

Chapter 11. Systems Science in Retrospect and Prospect

Abstract
No historical reflection upon systems science and its impact on other areas of human endeavor can be definitive at this time since systems science is currently still in the process of forming. It is by far not established as yet to a degree comparable with traditional disciplines of science such as, e.g., physics, chemistry, psychology, or economics. One of the difficulties in examining systems science in this formative stage is the lack of unified terminology. Thus, the very notion of systems science, as conceived in this book, is often discussed in the literature under the names systems research or systems theory, sometimes with the adjective general.
Kenneth E. Boulding

Backmatter

Classical Systems Literature

Frontmatter

Part II. Classical Systems Literature

Abstract
The purpose of this part of the book is to provide the reader with some representative original papers pertaining to the various facets of systems science discussed in Part I, “Systems Science: A Guided Tour.” These papers were carefully selected to reinforce Part I, and their order of presentation mirrors the order of presentation of topics there. Hence, they should be read in parallel with the individual chapters of Part I that they bear upon (as indicated in the Detailed Contents).
George J. Klir

Detailed Contents

Without Abstract
George J. Klir

Backmatter

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