The term system (from the Greek σύστημα, ancient greek pronunciation Systema, today sístima, " the structure, Compiled, Connected "; plural systems ) generally designates a set of elements that are related to each other and connected to each other and interact in a way that they can be regarded as a task-, purpose or intention -bound unit. In a wide variety of disciplines beyond specific uses of the term are proposed, discussed and applied.

Conceptual history occurs ( etc., eg for solar systems, sound systems. ) Besides the use of " system " for functional structure of individual body and specific scientific technical uses, the use of the system for " a unified, according to a certain principle, an idea, a methodical insight conducted arrangement of a variety of insights into a logically justified overall view, a doctrine in which every part takes its rationally particular place. "On this concept is similar construct.

Concepts and the history of ideas


The Greek expressions σύστημα, σύσταμα, σύστεμα found use as a " generic term for all associational organizations, public community with enclosed ".

In addition, σύστημα used

  • In the medical field, such as a 'system' of pulsations
  • In the field of music theory, for example, for a "system" of intervals
  • In the field of literary theory, such as the importance of " composition"

On the theory of music use Plato takes up in his late dialogue Philebus. He speaks of the many " connections" that arise from the " interstices " of sounds and also measurable in numbers " like circumstances " in the movements of the body; at the same time one must bear in mind what " one and many " is in it; by dieseart reflection, they may attain the " insight" that was never locked but because of the infinity of each term and the thing.

The pseudo- Platonic dialogue Epinomis applies the term " σύστημα " on the figures with which the laws of stellar orbits are detectable.

Modern Times

Since the 16th century the concept of a system is used in various contexts, as for example in relation to the sphere of politics first by Thomas Hobbes in the sense of a political entity.

Concept of a system of systems theory

As a systems theory of research of various disciplines are referred to collectively describe the complex relationships through general theories to the functioning of systems in general. As first defined in 1950 Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901 - 1972) systems as interaction contexts that differentiate themselves from their environment, which in turn consists of other contexts of interaction. According to this context, common basic ideas, systems can as see themselves organizing function units, the continued functioning of their own produce (see autopoiesis ) and differentiate into a specific way of their environment, such as through the expression of specific distinctive ways. For example, sailors put certain animals on the island to hunt them later over there. Thus, the existing on the island until then system gets from animals and plants "mess "; A new system is created. Sometimes arise endemics ( = plants or animals that occur only in a specific, clearly defined geographic area ).

System concept of structural linguistics

The structural linguistics ( structuralism → ) is based on the view that linguistic individual elements are not due each by themselves in their meaning, but by their relations to other elements - with the whole of it is described as a system with this, among other common property.


For control systems IEC 60050-351 defines a system as " amount of interrelated elements that are seen in a particular context as a whole and viewed as distinct from their surroundings. "