[Understandable but with some grammatical missteps]
The idea of viewing reality as a whole, or as a series of interconnected structures or systems, is perhaps as old as mankind. And it appears to be deeply rooted in our ordinary knowledge.
The history of ideas has left us an amount of problems closely related to the notion of system (for example, the relationship between the whole and its parts, or the relationship between the causes and the goals). Nowadays, Bertalanffy, Wiener, Thom, Prigogine, Mandelbrot… have highlighted the need for a systems approach in science. Bertalanffy is well known as the creator of the Theory of Systems. A system is defined as a complex object of interacting elements. Given some conditions, an element will behave in a certain way. When these conditions change, the behaviour will also change. Bertalanffy thinks the main characteristic of a system is that the whole contributes more tan the separate parts, taken in isolation, due to interactions among them.
The meaning of the term “system” is not unambiguous, but each author seems to give a different meaning. That is why different formalizations have been proposed (Klir, Bunge, Zeigler…). These formalizations help to clarify many of the intuitive notions about the relationships between systems and their environment, about the distinction between natural and artificial systems, about the structural complexity of the systems, about the relationships between systems and their models, etc.
The concept of system goes usually associated with the concepts of model and simulation. A meaning of the term model is that of a simulated system. There are different systems modelling techniques (for example, System Dynamics).
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M. Vázquez (14/04/2010)
[It corresponds with the first version of the article, which is now showed in the left column. It is edited in both English and Spanish]