Cycles and the Cyclic Nature of Systems – SEBoK

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Cycles and the Cyclic Nature of Systems – SEBoK

Cycles and the Cyclic Nature of Systems

Cycles and the Cyclic Nature of Systems


Lead Author: Gary SmithContributing Authors: Olaf Brugman, Helene Finadori, John Kineman, Tom Marzolf, George Mobus, Peter Tuddenham, Lynn Rasmussen, Hillary Sillitto, William Smith, Len Troncale, Tyler Volk


This article is part of the Systems Science knowledge area (KA). “Cycle” is one of many concepts within general system theory that have been studied within systems science. A cycle is “a series of events that are regularly repeated in the same order; or move in or follow a regularly repeated sequence of events” according to the Oxford English Dictionary (2020). Cycles “define and make things. Equally things contain Cycles.” (Volk 1995) Mobus and Kalton describe a cycle as a temporal pattern (2015). The Foundation for the Study of Cycles describe a cycle as, “A series of events that is regularly repeated in the same order. The longer and more regular the series is repeated, the more predictable it becomes, until it cannot reasonably be considered a coincidence.” (2020) “Circularity is the essence of the early notion of feedback (circular causality). The notion of circularity is found in recursive computation (the use of DO loops, for example)”. (Krippendorf 1984)

This article illustrates a General System Concept and its patterns of measurable instantiation. Additionally a number of frameworks that incorporate cyclic behaviour are highlighted and the pattern of relationships between these models, the phases of system emergence and the practice of system engineering are illustrated.

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Cycles and the Cyclic Nature of Systems – SEBoK