System Science


System Science provides a way to identify and describe systems to understand their inherent change mechanisms.

This iwork has been synthesised from the following work:

  • Russell Ackoff
  • Ludwig von Bertalanffy
  • Fritjof Capra
  • Peter Checkland
  • INCOSE (including Hillary Sillitto, Simon Perry, Jon Holt)
  • ISO 42010:2011 (Rich Hilliard)
  • ISO 15288:2015.
  • John Mingers (Critical Realism)
  • Peter Senge

This work has addressed the following questions:

  • What is a system?
  • What are its system elements and interactions?
  • What are the contents / headers of a System Description for any identified?
  • What are the criteria to verify and validate the system description?

Core system pattern is shown below:

System Description

The concept of a system description came from Peter Checkland's use of a Root Definition for a Human Activity System.

Every system can be described using the following top level headings (Views):

  • System Name and Class
  • System Purpose
  • System Properties
  • System Stakeholders and their concerns
  • System Environment (Context)
  • System Structure (Pattern of Organization)
  • System Behavior (Structural Changes)
  • References

System Patterns

In addition, this lead to the investigation of abstract system patterns. These are patterns that are used as the base abstract classes for other systems. The following diagram identifies some of the types of systems that have been investigated. Each has a system description:

System Classification

Finally, this has led to the identification of a classification system for all systems. This search led to the System Classification System in Peter Checkland's book: Systems Thinking; Systems Practice.

The top level system classes are the following:

  • Natural Systems
  • Human Activity Systems
  • Designed Physical Systems
  • Designed Abstract Systems
  • Transcendental Systems

Architecture Frameworks

This work has been formalized through the use of the COMPASS Architecture Framework Framework (CAFF) to create an Architecture Framework where the output of this architecture framework is a 'system description' in the same way that an Architecture Description is created to express an architecture of a system-of-interest. The process is shown in the left side of the diagram below.

Please see the System Architecture Framework (link to be provided soon).