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Systems, Volume 2, Issue 2 (June 2014), Pages 77-242

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Research

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Open AccessCommunication Four Decades of Systems Science Teaching and Research in the USA at Portland State University
Systems 2014, 2(2), 77-88; doi:10.3390/systems2020077
Received: 8 February 2014 / Revised: 14 March 2014 / Accepted: 1 April 2014 / Published: 8 April 2014
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Abstract
Systems science is defined in general fashion, and a brief background is provided that lists some of the systems science-related societies, conferences, journals, research institutes, and educational programs. The Systems Science Graduate Program at Portland State University in Portland, OR, USA, is described
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Systems science is defined in general fashion, and a brief background is provided that lists some of the systems science-related societies, conferences, journals, research institutes, and educational programs. The Systems Science Graduate Program at Portland State University in Portland, OR, USA, is described in detail, including its history, curriculum, students, faculty, and degrees granted. Dissertation topics are summarized via word diagrams created from dissertation titles over the years. MS degrees, student placement, and undergraduate courses are also mentioned, and future plans for the program are described including its support for sustainability education. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Education for a Sustainable Planet)
Open AccessArticle A Fractional Probability Calculus View of Allometry
Systems 2014, 2(2), 89-118; doi:10.3390/systems2020089
Received: 7 January 2014 / Revised: 2 April 2014 / Accepted: 10 April 2014 / Published: 14 April 2014
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Abstract
The scaling of respiratory metabolism with body size in animals is considered by many to be a fundamental law of nature. An apparent corollary of this law is the scaling of physiologic time with body size, implying that physiologic time is separate and
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The scaling of respiratory metabolism with body size in animals is considered by many to be a fundamental law of nature. An apparent corollary of this law is the scaling of physiologic time with body size, implying that physiologic time is separate and distinct from clock time. However, these are only two of the many allometry relations that emerge from empirical studies in the physical, social and life sciences. Herein, we present a theory of allometry that provides a foundation for the allometry relation between a network function and the size that is entailed by the hypothesis that the fluctuations in the two measures are described by a scaling of the joint probability density. The dynamics of such networks are described by the fractional calculus, whose scaling solutions entail the empirically observed allometry relations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Allometric Scaling)
Open AccessCommunication Designing and Developing a Reflexive Learning System for Managing Systemic Change
Systems 2014, 2(2), 119-136; doi:10.3390/systems2020119
Received: 24 January 2014 / Revised: 25 March 2014 / Accepted: 3 April 2014 / Published: 15 April 2014
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Abstract
We offer a reflection on our own praxis as designers and developers of a learning system for mature-age students through the Open University (OU) UK’s internationally recognised supported-open learning approach. The learning system (or course or module), which required an investment in the
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We offer a reflection on our own praxis as designers and developers of a learning system for mature-age students through the Open University (OU) UK’s internationally recognised supported-open learning approach. The learning system (or course or module), which required an investment in the range of £0.25–0.5 million to develop, thus reflects our own history (traditions of understanding), the history of the context and the history of cyber-systemic thought and praxis including our own engagement with particular cyber-systemic lineages. This module, “Managing systemic change: inquiry, action and interaction” was first studied by around 100 students in 2010 as part of a new OU Masters Program on Systems Thinking in Practice (STiP) and is now in its fourth presentation to around 100 students. Understanding and skills in systemic inquiry, action and interaction are intended learning outcomes. Through their engagement with the module and each other’s perspectives, students develop critical appreciation of systems practice and social learning systems, drawing on their own experiences of change. Students are practitioners from a wide range of domains. Through activities such as online discussions and blogging, they ground the ideas introduced in the module in their own circumstances and develop their own community by pursuing two related systemic inquiries. In this process, they challenge themselves, each other and the authors as learning system designers. We reflect on what was learnt by whom and how and for what purposes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Education for a Sustainable Planet)
Open AccessArticle A Systems Engineering Methodology for Designing and Planning the Built Environment—Results from the Urban Research Laboratory Nuremberg and Their Integration in Education
Systems 2014, 2(2), 137-158; doi:10.3390/systems2020137
Received: 6 November 2013 / Revised: 21 March 2014 / Accepted: 1 April 2014 / Published: 16 April 2014
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Abstract
Sustainable urban development requires a long-term sector-integrative approach. This paper proposes a method of system analysis and partial simulation for urban structures for this purpose. It couples a discussion-based holistic approach for systems analysis and modelling of urban structures with quantitative modelling and
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Sustainable urban development requires a long-term sector-integrative approach. This paper proposes a method of system analysis and partial simulation for urban structures for this purpose. It couples a discussion-based holistic approach for systems analysis and modelling of urban structures with quantitative modelling and simulation of partial scenarios that serve to examine specific questions regarding the long-term development of urban structures. In the first part, the application in the City Lab Nuremberg West, a multidisciplinary urban research laboratory, serves to develop the methodology and its illustration. The main objective is to examine the transition of the existing underperforming quarter to a sustainable and livable urban environment. Scenario-based experiments with respect to development paths determine robustness and risks of different configurations. The second part of the paper describes the transfer of the methodology to education. The approach serves to teach students in the Energy-Efficient and Sustainable Building master course program an integrative way of planning a sustainable built environment. The definition of educational objectives concerning the students’ understanding and management of systemic interdependencies of sustainability help assess the use of the method in the classroom. The aim is to provide them with the competence to develop strategies for complex situations while planning a sustainable built environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Education for a Sustainable Planet)
Open AccessCommunication Systems Education at Bergen
Systems 2014, 2(2), 159-167; doi:10.3390/systems2020159
Received: 12 February 2014 / Revised: 28 March 2014 / Accepted: 11 April 2014 / Published: 16 April 2014
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Abstract
At the University of Bergen in Norway, educating students to use computer models and to think systemically about social and economic problems began in the 1970s. The International Masters Program in System Dynamics was established in 1995, and a Ph.D. program began a
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At the University of Bergen in Norway, educating students to use computer models and to think systemically about social and economic problems began in the 1970s. The International Masters Program in System Dynamics was established in 1995, and a Ph.D. program began a few years later. Student enrolment doubled in 2010 with the establishment of the European Master Program in System Dynamics. International diversity has been a hallmark of the Bergen program; each year, students come from about 30 different countries and more than 95% of the degrees have been awarded to students from outside of Norway. However, a Bergen systems education is not confined to a classroom in Norway. Projects in developing countries, emerging economies, and developed countries have taken the systems perspective and modeling tools on the road and, increasingly, online. Whatever the delivery mode, the goal is the same: capacity building among international students, planners and managers, and local stakeholders. This paper describes the Bergen program and its impact on systems thinking and modeling throughout the world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Education for a Sustainable Planet)
Open AccessArticle Allometric Relations and Scaling Laws for the Cardiovascular System of Mammals
Systems 2014, 2(2), 168-185; doi:10.3390/systems2020168
Received: 11 February 2014 / Revised: 3 April 2014 / Accepted: 11 April 2014 / Published: 22 April 2014
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Abstract
The modeling of the cardiovascular system of mammals is discussed within the framework of governing allometric relations and related scaling laws for mammals. An earlier theory of the writer for resting-state cardiovascular function is reviewed and standard solutions discussed for reciprocal quarter-power relations
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The modeling of the cardiovascular system of mammals is discussed within the framework of governing allometric relations and related scaling laws for mammals. An earlier theory of the writer for resting-state cardiovascular function is reviewed and standard solutions discussed for reciprocal quarter-power relations for heart rate and cardiac output per unit body mass. Variation in the basic cardiac process controlling heart beat is considered and shown to allow alternate governing relations. Results have potential application in explaining deviations from the noted quarter-power relations. The work thus indicates that the cardiovascular systems of all mammals are designed according to the same general theory and, accordingly, that it provides a quantitative means to extrapolate measurements of cardiovascular form and function from small mammals to the human. Various illustrations are included. Work described here also indicates that the basic scaling laws from the theory apply to children and adults, with important applications such as the extrapolation of therapeutic drug dosage requirements from adults to children. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Allometric Scaling)
Open AccessArticle On the Isomorphism between Dissipative Systems, Fractal Self-Similarity and Electrodynamics. Toward an Integrated Vision of Nature
Systems 2014, 2(2), 203-216; doi:10.3390/systems2020203
Received: 9 April 2014 / Revised: 5 May 2014 / Accepted: 12 May 2014 / Published: 14 May 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (375 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In electrodynamics there is a mutual exchange of energy and momentum between the matter field and the electromagnetic field and the total energy and momentum are conserved. For a constant magnetic field and harmonic scalar potential, electrodynamics is shown to be isomorph to
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In electrodynamics there is a mutual exchange of energy and momentum between the matter field and the electromagnetic field and the total energy and momentum are conserved. For a constant magnetic field and harmonic scalar potential, electrodynamics is shown to be isomorph to a system of damped/amplified harmonic oscillators. These can be described by squeezed coherent states which in turn are isomorph to self-similar fractal structures. Under the said conditions of constant magnetic field and harmonic scalar potential, electrodynamics is thus isomorph to fractal self-similar structures and squeezed coherent states. At a quantum level, dissipation induces noncommutative geometry with the squeezing parameter playing a relevant role. Ubiquity of fractals in Nature and relevance of coherent states and electromagnetic interaction point to a unified, integrated vision of Nature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Towards a Second Generation General System Theory)
Open AccessArticle Simulation-Based Learning Environments to Teach Complexity: The Missing Link in Teaching Sustainable Public Management
Systems 2014, 2(2), 217-236; doi:10.3390/systems2020217
Received: 16 January 2014 / Revised: 27 April 2014 / Accepted: 16 May 2014 / Published: 22 May 2014
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Abstract
While public-sector management problems are steeped in positivistic and socially constructed complexity, public management education in the management of complexity lags behind that of business schools, particularly in the application of simulation-based learning. This paper describes a Simulation-Based Learning Environment for public management
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While public-sector management problems are steeped in positivistic and socially constructed complexity, public management education in the management of complexity lags behind that of business schools, particularly in the application of simulation-based learning. This paper describes a Simulation-Based Learning Environment for public management education that includes a coupled case study and System Dynamics simulation surrounding flood protection, a domain where stewardship decisions regarding public infrastructure and investment have direct and indirect effects on businesses and the public. The Pointe Claire case and CoastalProtectSIM simulation provide a platform for policy experimentation under conditions of exogenous uncertainty (weather and climate change) as well as endogenous effects generated by structure. We discuss the model in some detail, and present teaching materials developed to date to support the use of our work in public administration curricula. Our experience with this case demonstrates the potential of this approach to motivate sustainable learning about complexity in public management settings and enhance learners’ competency to deal with complex dynamic problems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Education for a Sustainable Planet)
Open AccessCommunication Networks as a Privileged Way to Develop Mesoscopic Level Approaches in Systems Biology
Systems 2014, 2(2), 237-242; doi:10.3390/systems2020237
Received: 29 April 2014 / Revised: 21 May 2014 / Accepted: 28 May 2014 / Published: 30 May 2014
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Abstract
The methodologies advocated in computational biology are in many cases proper system-level approaches. These methodologies are variously connected to the notion of “mesosystem” and thus on the focus on relational structures that are at the basis of biological regulation. Here, I describe how
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The methodologies advocated in computational biology are in many cases proper system-level approaches. These methodologies are variously connected to the notion of “mesosystem” and thus on the focus on relational structures that are at the basis of biological regulation. Here, I describe how the formalization of biological systems by means of graph theory constitutes an extremely fruitful approach to biology. I suggest the epistemological relevance of the notion of graph resides in its multilevel character allowing for a natural “middle-out” causation making largely obsolete the traditional opposition between “top-down” and “bottom-up” styles of reasoning, so fulfilling the foundation dream of systems science of a direct link between systems analysis and the underlying physical reality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Towards a Second Generation General System Theory)

Review

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Open AccessReview A Sceptics View: “Kleiber’s Law” or the “3/4 Rule” is neither a Law nor a Rule but Rather an Empirical Approximation
Systems 2014, 2(2), 186-202; doi:10.3390/systems2020186
Received: 24 February 2014 / Revised: 18 April 2014 / Accepted: 23 April 2014 / Published: 28 April 2014
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Abstract
Early studies showed the metabolic rate (MR) of different-sized animals was not directly related to body mass. The initial explanation of this difference, the “surface law”, was replaced by the suggestion that MR be expressed relative to massn, where the scaling
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Early studies showed the metabolic rate (MR) of different-sized animals was not directly related to body mass. The initial explanation of this difference, the “surface law”, was replaced by the suggestion that MR be expressed relative to massn, where the scaling exponent “n” be empirically determined. Basal metabolic rate (BMR) conditions were developed and BMR became important clinically, especially concerning thyroid diseases. Allometry, the technique previously used to empirically analyse relative growth, showed BMR of endotherms varied with 0.73–0.74 power of body mass. Kleiber suggested that mass3/4 be used, partly because of its easy calculation with a slide rule. Later studies have produced a range of BMR scaling exponents, depending on species measured. Measurement of maximal metabolism produced scaling exponents ranging from 0.80 to 0.97, while scaling of mammalian MR during growth display multi-phasic allometric relationships with scaling exponents >3/4 initially, followed by scaling exponents <3/4. There is no universal metabolic scaling exponent. The fact that “allometry” is an empirical technique to analyse relative change and not a biological law is discussed. Relative tissue size is an important determinant of MR. There is also a need to avoid simplistic assumptions regarding the allometry of surface area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Allometric Scaling)

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