Sample Essay

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The General Systems theory rises out of the human need to live in an orderly, deterministic world. Systemists see the world as a hierarchy of systems ‘from sub-atomic particles to civilizations'(), while other branches of science study the characteristics and the laws that govern specific sub-systems, General Systems theory is a search for the ‘law of laws’; A holistic principle that would explain and be applicable to all systems.

A system can be defined as a complex whole created out of the interaction of separable components. Systems theory attempts to understand the principles that govern systems in general, without regard to the nature of the system, or the nature of the components of the system or their interrelationships (Skyttner, 2006).

A system needs to have internal organization; it is not just a random assembly of elements. It is also not a set of elements all of which perform the same function, for a system to be a system, there has to be a division of labor among its components. A system should be able to maintain continuity of identity and have specific functions or goals.

Since the boundaries of a system cannot always be clearly defined it is difficult to come up with rigorous laws applicable to all systems, therefore it is sometimes necessary to speak of General Systems Thinking or General Systems Practice rather than General Systems Theory (Bertalanffy, 1975).

Systems can generally be divided into two types: Static systems are systems that do not change over time or adapt to changing environments. In accordance with the second law of thermodynamics which static systems generally wind down to their lowest state of energy over time i.e. stop working.  A dynamic system can be said to have five general components: Input, Throughput, Output, Evaluation and Feedback. Of these the last two are unique to dynamic systems, static systems only have Inputs, Throughputs and Outputs.

The Input of a system is the raw material or materials that are entered into a system. For an Information System, the input is the raw data resources which are entered into the system.

The Throughput of a system is the process or series or collection of internal processes through which the materials that form the input are converted into a form that is usable by the system itself or by the supra-system of which the system is a sub-system. The throughput of an information system may include tabulation, summarization and filtering of data.

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