Article

What is a System? An Ontological Framework: INTEGRATED FRAMEWORK FOR SYSTEM DEFINITIONS

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Abstract

Over the past decades, the definition of system has eluded researchers and practitioners. We reviewed over 100 definitions of system to understand the variations and establish a framework for a widely acceptable system definition or a family of system definitions. There is much common ground in different families of definitions of system, but there are also important and significant ontological differences. Some differences stem from the variety of belief systems and worldviews, while others have risen within particular communities. Both limit the effectiveness of system communities’ efforts to communicate, collaborate, and learn from others’ experience. We consider three ontological elements: (1) a worldview-based framework for typology of different system types and categories, (2) key system concepts that are fundamental to the various system types and categories, and (3) appropriate language for the target audience. In this work, we establish the ontological framework, list key concepts associated with different types of system, and point to a direction for agreeing on an integrated set of system definitions in a neutral language consistent with the framework. The definitions are compatible with both the realist and constructivist worldviews, covering real (physical, concrete) and conceptual (abstract, logical, informatical) systems, which are both human-made (artificial) and naturally occurring, using language acceptable to a wide target stakeholder audience. The contribution of this paper is setting up an ontologically founded framework of system typologies, providing definitions for system, and identifying the issues involved in achieving a widely accepted definition or family of definitions of system.

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... Every process involves an interaction between hard , technical systems (which might be very basic equipment/products to be used or very complex technical systems to be operated) and soft , social systems (the behaviour of people who play various roles in the 2 As Dori and Sillito pointed out [10], the concept system is used in science since the times of Aristotle, who affirmed that the whole is something over and above its parts, and not just the sum of them all. ( [11], quoted in [10], p. 209). ...
... Every process involves an interaction between hard , technical systems (which might be very basic equipment/products to be used or very complex technical systems to be operated) and soft , social systems (the behaviour of people who play various roles in the 2 As Dori and Sillito pointed out [10], the concept system is used in science since the times of Aristotle, who affirmed that the whole is something over and above its parts, and not just the sum of them all. ( [11], quoted in [10], p. 209). Despite this, the definition of system in modern science is still not universally codified. ...
... Despite this, the definition of system in modern science is still not universally codified. [10] Similarly, also modern Systems Engineering doesn't have a universally codified definition. Here Systems Engineering will be defined as . . . ...
Technical Report
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... Evagorou et al. (2009) described system thinking as "a method of seeing systems from a broad perspective". Dori and Sillitto (2017) stated in their study that "complexity decisionmaking, especially with holistic or system approach. The holistic approach of system thinking is claimed to improve the quality of decision processes". ...
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Conference Paper
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