General systems theory

The general systems theory concerns the properties that systems have in common. It is often helpful to study a system in terms of this theory, and in terms of other systems. There are many different kinds of system, such as solar systems, political systems, ecological systems (ecosystems), mechanical systems, legal systems, electrical systems, and so on. The concept of the pathosystem is based on the general systems theory.

Systems theory is now divided into the general systems theory and complexity theory, which developed out of it. Systems theory is based on the concept of a pattern, and of systems levels, which are patterns of patterns. Thus a book is a pattern of chapters, each of which is a pattern of paragraphs, and so on down to words and letters. In biology, a population is almost synonymous with 'systems level'. Thus a forest is a population of trees, a tree is a population of leaves, a leaf is a population of cells, and so on.

Key aspects of systems theory involve the concepts of suboptimisation, emergent properties, and the holistic approach.

See also: Complexity theory, Linear systems, Non-linear systems.

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