An Assessment of the Adequacy of Common Definitions of the Concept of System July 2021 Conference: INCOSE International Symposium 2021 Authors: Alejandro Salado Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Aditya U Kulkarni(PDF) An Assessment of the Adequacy of Common Definitions of the Concept of System
Just presented at the INCOSE conference. Systems Engineering (very much in its own terms – starting from ‘we restrict ourselves to systems in the world’, defining ’emergence’ in fixed thermodynamic terms etc) goes second order!
In all areas of scientific study, definitions are used to describe the meaning of terms. Thus, a good set of definitions aids the scientific process by enabling researchers to communicate in a common language. In this regard, the Systems Engineering community has allocated significant effort to understanding the nature and scope of common definitions of a system. However, less attention has been given to formally examining whether these common definitions of a system are adequate. In this paper, we argue that the common definitions of a system are limited in their ability to adequately define a system’s boundary. Furthermore, we argue that the common definitions of a system rely on context and prior understanding to communicate the boundary of a system. Finally, by using concepts from philosophy and mathematical logic, we show that the common definitions of a system are nominal in their ability to define a system’s boundary.