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Computing and Design Theory

Elective Presentation 2nd part -

Jan 19th 2011

Systems Theory
Systems : Definition

A system can be viewed as a whole made up of a sum of parts. It

can also be made up a series of subsystems.

Systems exhibit behaviour. A systems behaviour is a result of

parameters opposed onto the system, and can be described as its

Behaviour of a system can be described as conforming to three

different states: homeostasis (returning to a comfortable level of
activity), autonomy (exhibiting a self regulating ‘normal’ behaviour),
and chaotic (unpredicable)
Complex Systems
The development of Systems theory is best described through the study of
complex systems and their development since the 1940’s and 50’s. Starting

1960’s – Cybernetics (Ashby, Wiener,..) The mathematical theory of the

communication and control of systems through regulatory feedback

1970’s – Catastrophe Theory (Thom, Zeeman,..) A branch of mathematics

which dealt with bifurications in dynamic systems, and classifies phenomena by sudden shifts in
behaviour arising from small changes in their circumstances.

1980’s – Chaos Theory (Ruelle, Lorenz, Feigenbaum,.. ) Mathematical theory

of nonlinear dynamic systems that describes bifurications, strange attractors and chaotic motions.

1990’s – Complex Adaptive Systems A new science of complexity which

describes emergence, adaption and self-organisation. It is based on agents and computer
simulations, and is currently an active area of research.
Open/Closed Systems

Open systems can be described as having permeable boundaries through

which new information and ideas can be absorbed.

This adaptability is exhibited in today’s current information technology

systems, as they are able to absorb new technologies and approaches.
Operating technologies, Network File System by Sun Microsystems and
Netscape Internet Browser are examples of open systems.

Closed systems are systems which do not change their inputs, as thus
unable to accept new information, which leads the system to turn to entropy.

An example of a closed system is an industry that is not able to

accommodate new approaches or consumers fluctuations, and as result, no
longer operates as a fully effective business due to this breakdown in the
system of its business.
System Energy
Energy changes form throughout cycles and phases of the system. This is
a related subject of entropy. Entropy occurs in closed systems where a
change in inputs does not occur. It can be used as a method to judge the
effectivity of a system.

Entropy is something that exists in all systems, living and nonliving, that
possess free energy for doing work. Entropy has precise mathematical and
statistical definitions, but can be approximately defined as the degree of
disorder or uncertainty in a system.

The phenomenon of entropy was initially observed in thermodynamic

systems such as hot baths. In isolated systems, as (in the example)
temperature cools, entropy increases until in finally reaches its maximum.

When considered under General Systems Theory, entropy cannot be

applied to both living and non living systems.