• "Environmental pollution is an incurable disease. It can only be prevented."

  • "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."

  • "What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”

  • "I can find God in nature, in animals, in birds and the environment."

  • "We won't have a society if we destroy the environment."

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Universal Systems Language (USL)

Universal Systems Language

Unlike traditional languages, the Universal Systems Language (USL) is based on a preventative instead of a curative paradigm.[1][2][3][4] Based on systems theory, to a great extent derived from lessons learned from the Apollo onboard flight software effort, USL has evolved over several decades and taken on multiple dimensions as a Systems Engineering approach.

According to its users, USL eliminates any preconceived notions because it is a world unto itself–a completely different way to think about systems. Instead of object-oriented and model-driven systems, the designer thinks in terms of system-oriented objects (SOOs) and system-driven models. Much of what seems counterintuitive with traditional approaches, which tend to be software-centric, becomes intuitive with this systems-centric approach.

USL was created for designing systems with significantly increased reliability, higher productivity, and lower risk. It was designed with the following objectives in mind:

  • reduce complexity and bring clarity into the thinking process;
  • ensure correctness by inherent, universal, built-in language properties;
  • ensure seamless integration from systems to software;
  • ensure traceability and evolvability,
  • develop unambiguous requirements, specifications, and design;
  • ensure that there are no interface errors in a system design and its derivatives;
  • maximize inherent reuse;
  • ensure that every model captures real-time execution semantics (for example, asynchronous and distributed);
  • establish automatic generation of much of design, reducing the need for designers’ involvement in implementation details;
  • establish automatic generation of 100 percent, fully production-ready code, from system specifications, for any kind or size of software application; and
  • eliminate the need for a high percentage of testing without compromising reliability.

USL together with its automation[5], can address these objectives because of the systems theory that forms its foundations. It also takes roots from other sources–other real-world systems and formal linguistics, methods, and object technologies.

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Systems Thinking

Systems thinking is the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole. In nature, systems thinking examples include ecosystems in which various elements such as air, water, movement, plants, and animals work together to survive or perish. In organizations, systems consist of people, structures, and processes that work together to make an organization healthy or unhealthy.

systems-thinking-diagramSystems Thinking has been defined as an approach to problem solving, by viewing "problems" as parts of an overall system, rather than reacting to specific part, outcomes or events and potentially contributing to further development of unintended consequences. Systems thinking is not one thing but a set of habits or practices [1] within a framework that is based on the belief that the component parts of a system can best be understood in the context of relationships with each other and with other systems, rather than in isolation. Systems thinking focuses on cyclical rather than linear cause and effect.

In science systems, it is argued that the only way to fully understand why a problem or element occurs and persists is to understand the parts in relation to the whole.[2] Standing in contrast to Descartes's scientific reductionism and philosophical analysis, it proposes to view systems in a holistic manner. Consistent with systems philosophy, systems thinking concerns an understanding of a system by examining the linkages and interactions between the elements that compose the entirety of the system.

Science systems thinking attempts to illustrate that events are separated by distance and time and that small catalytic events can cause large changes in complex systems. Acknowledging that an improvement in one area of a system can adversely affect another area of the system, it promotes organizational communication at all levels in order to avoid the silo effect. Systems thinking techniques may be used to study any kind of system — natural, scientific, engineered, human, or conceptual.

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Analyzing Systems Theory under the Second Language Scope: Von Bertalanffy, Banathy and Laszlo


What Systems Theory is Not

The definition of Social Systems theory must not be confused with another theory known as “reductionism” (Koestler, Smithies, 1969 p. 60). Reductionism is a term introduced by Rene Descartes in the 1600’s which, contrary to the systems theory, offers that all things, no matter how complex they are, operate thanks to very basic units. Though the idea of smaller parts forming a complex organism is shared in both theories, reductionism differs from systems theory in that it tends to minimize the complex by focusing on how simple its parts are. (Descartes, 1637)

Systems theory does the opposite: It gives emphasis to the complexity that exists within the elements of a whole and tries to understand the dynamics that occur among such formative elements (Von Bertalanffy, 1964 p. 62)

It is safe to assume that every formative process seems to follow the same pattern of behavior: Individual parts joining together to make a whole part which may, or may not resemble the elements that built it. Yet, what motivates the individual parts to unite? How do the parts of an object interact? How do the changes within the parts affect the changes within the system? Those questions are what bring us to the analysis of four sociologists: Von Bertalaffy, Banathy, and Laszlo.

Ludwig Von Bertalanffy

Von Bertalanffy saw the world through scientific eyes (Brauckmann, 1999). As a scientist, he had already conceived a series of theories that aimed to show a structure and pattern of formation among different things. In 1930 he offered the “Organismic Systems Theory” (Von Bertalanffy, 1960, p. 156). This theory attempted to explain the processes of life as a phenomenon. He insisted that individuals exist because of a combination of different processes that work together in the formation of the organism. He offered that these processes are systemic, yet dynamic, and complex. To illustrate this idea, Von Bertalanffy compared the organism as a machinery out in the open trying to “maintain equilibrium”. This equilibrium symbolized the individual’s struggles to survive and adapt to an environment, but also the internal struggles to adapt and perform that occur within the systems that compose the individual itself (Von Bertalanffy, 1960, p. 158-159).

The Organismic Systems Theory gave life to a myriad of other theories proposed by Von Bertalanffy to explain the processes of unification. However, it was the General Systems Theory (GST) what seemed to encompass his entire model in a transdisciplinary way. The GST is defined as a “metatheory” that arose from the previous postulates by Bertalanffy. (Braukmann, 1999, p. 2)

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Bertalanffy's General Systems Theory: The Topology of Mind Development

BERTALANFFY'S GENERAL SYSTEMS THEORY

Systems theory studies the structure and properties of systems in terms of relationships, from which new properties of wholes emerge. It was established as a science by Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Anatol Rapoport, Kenneth E. Boulding, William Ross Ashby, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson and others in the 1950's. Systems theory, in its transdisciplinary role, brings together theoretical principles and concepts from ontology, philosophy of science, physics, biology and engineering. Applications are found in numerous fields including geography, sociology, political science, organizational theory, management, psychotherapy and economics amongst others.

The concept of system, though it seems to be intrinsic to human thinking, has been extensively employed and developed over the last few decades, due in a large measure to contributions made by Karl Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901-1972), a Viennese professor of biology. He worked to identify structural, behavioral and developmental features common to particular classes of living organisms. One approach was to look over the empirical universe and pick out certain general phenomena which are found in many different disciplines, and to seek to build up general theoretical models relevant to these phenomena, e.g., growth, homeostasis, evolution. Another approach was to arrange the empirical fields in a hierarchy of complexity of organization of their basic 'individuality' or units of behavior, and to try to develop a level of abstraction appropriate to each. Examples are generalizations on the levels of cells, simple organs, open self-maintaining organisms, small groups of organisms, society and the universe. The latter approach implies a hierarchical "systems of systems" view of the world.

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