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Systems, Volume 4, Issue 4 (December 2016)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Building the Observer into the System: Toward a Realistic Description of Human Interaction with the World
Systems 2016, 4(4), 32; doi:10.3390/systems4040032
Received: 26 July 2016 / Revised: 14 October 2016 / Accepted: 24 October 2016 / Published: 28 October 2016
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Abstract
Human beings do not observe the world from the outside, but rather are fully embedded in it. The sciences, however, often give the observer both a “god’s eye” perspective and substantial a priori knowledge. Motivated by W. Ross Ashby’s statement, “the theory of
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Human beings do not observe the world from the outside, but rather are fully embedded in it. The sciences, however, often give the observer both a “god’s eye” perspective and substantial a priori knowledge. Motivated by W. Ross Ashby’s statement, “the theory of the Black Box is merely the theory of real objects or systems, when close attention is given to the question, relating object and observer, about what information comes from the object, and how it is obtained” (Introduction to Cybernetics, 1956, p. 110), I develop here an alternate picture of the world as a black box to which the observer is coupled. Within this framework I prove purely-classical analogs of the “no-go” theorems of quantum theory. Focussing on the question of identifying macroscopic objects, such as laboratory apparatus or even other observers, I show that the standard quantum formalism of superposition is required to adequately represent the classical information that an observer can obtain. I relate these results to supporting considerations from evolutionary biology, cognitive and developmental psychology, and artificial intelligence. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Emergence at the Fundamental Systems Level: Existence Conditions for Iterative Specifications
Systems 2016, 4(4), 34; doi:10.3390/systems4040034
Received: 17 August 2016 / Revised: 30 September 2016 / Accepted: 25 October 2016 / Published: 9 November 2016
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Abstract
Conditions under which compositions of component systems form a well-defined system-of-systems are here formulated at a fundamental level. Statement of what defines a well-defined composition and sufficient conditions guaranteeing such a result offers insight into exemplars that can be found in special cases
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Conditions under which compositions of component systems form a well-defined system-of-systems are here formulated at a fundamental level. Statement of what defines a well-defined composition and sufficient conditions guaranteeing such a result offers insight into exemplars that can be found in special cases such as differential equation and discrete event systems. For any given global state of a composition, two requirements can be stated informally as: (1) the system can leave this state, i.e., there is at least one trajectory defined that starts from the state; and (2) the trajectory evolves over time without getting stuck at a point in time. Considered for every global state, these conditions determine whether the resultant is a well-defined system and, if so, whether it is non-deterministic or deterministic. We formulate these questions within the framework of iterative specifications for mathematical system models that are shown to be behaviorally equivalent to the Discrete Event System Specification (DEVS) formalism. This formalization supports definitions and proofs of the afore-mentioned conditions. Implications are drawn at the fundamental level of existence where the emergence of a system from an assemblage of components can be characterized. We focus on systems with feedback coupling where existence and uniqueness of solutions is problematic. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Decoding the XXI Century’s Marketing Shift: An Agency Theory Framework
Systems 2016, 4(4), 35; doi:10.3390/systems4040035
Received: 12 August 2016 / Revised: 15 October 2016 / Accepted: 7 November 2016 / Published: 15 November 2016
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Abstract
Since the beginning of the XXI century, marketing theory has moved through a series of epistemological shifts from modern positivism to postmodern constructivism. This has resulted in a series of changes to the main concepts of “traditional” marketing such as: market, product, customer,
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Since the beginning of the XXI century, marketing theory has moved through a series of epistemological shifts from modern positivism to postmodern constructivism. This has resulted in a series of changes to the main concepts of “traditional” marketing such as: market, product, customer, and value. These shifts can be better viewed under a social cybernetics approach such as agency theory. This is because there is now a view that the linear concept of value creation needs to give way to the more complex process of value cocreation, where value is created collectively. Agency theory is one approach that is able to shed light on how customers and providers are able to recursively create collective value during interaction in a market. The theoretical framework provided here is able to provide improved understanding of the interactions betfween (and among) customers and providers in the value cocreation process. In this theory, value cocreation is depicted as an interactive process between a set of “living system” agencies (providers and customers) in a given market arena. The framework can be an effective tool for the managers involved in marketing to contribute to providers’ policies by supplying a clearer portrait of the systemic relations involved in the value cocreation dynamics. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Thinking Tracks for Multidisciplinary System Design
Systems 2016, 4(4), 36; doi:10.3390/systems4040036
Received: 8 September 2016 / Revised: 12 October 2016 / Accepted: 2 November 2016 / Published: 10 November 2016
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Abstract
Systems engineering is, for a large part, a process description of how to bring new systems to existence. It is valuable as it directs the development effort. Tools exist that can be used in this process. System analysis investigates existing and/or desired situations.
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Systems engineering is, for a large part, a process description of how to bring new systems to existence. It is valuable as it directs the development effort. Tools exist that can be used in this process. System analysis investigates existing and/or desired situations. However, how to create a system that instantiates the desired situation depends significantly on human creativity and insight; the required human trait here is commonly called systems thinking. In literature, this trait is regularly used, but information on how to do systems thinking is scarce. Therefore, we have introduced earlier twelve thinking tracks that are concrete and help system designers to make an optimal fit between the system under design, the identified issue, the user, the environment and the rest of the world. The paper provides the scientific rationale for the thinking tracks based on literature. Secondly, the paper presents three cases of application, leading to the conclusion that the tracks are usable and effective. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication Visual Analysis of Nonlinear Dynamical Systems: Chaos, Fractals, Self-Similarity and the Limits of Prediction
Systems 2016, 4(4), 37; doi:10.3390/systems4040037
Received: 7 September 2016 / Revised: 1 November 2016 / Accepted: 7 November 2016 / Published: 13 November 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (6052 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Nearly all nontrivial real-world systems are nonlinear dynamical systems. Chaos describes certain nonlinear dynamical systems that have a very sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Chaotic systems are always deterministic and may be very simple, yet they produce completely unpredictable and divergent behavior. Systems
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Nearly all nontrivial real-world systems are nonlinear dynamical systems. Chaos describes certain nonlinear dynamical systems that have a very sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Chaotic systems are always deterministic and may be very simple, yet they produce completely unpredictable and divergent behavior. Systems of nonlinear equations are difficult to solve analytically, and scientists have relied heavily on visual and qualitative approaches to discover and analyze the dynamics of nonlinearity. Indeed, few fields have drawn as heavily from visualization methods for their seminal innovations: from strange attractors, to bifurcation diagrams, to cobweb plots, to phase diagrams and embedding. Although the social sciences are increasingly studying these types of systems, seminal concepts remain murky or loosely adopted. This article has three aims. First, it argues for several visualization methods to critically analyze and understand the behavior of nonlinear dynamical systems. Second, it uses these visualizations to introduce the foundations of nonlinear dynamics, chaos, fractals, self-similarity and the limits of prediction. Finally, it presents Pynamical, an open-source Python package to easily visualize and explore nonlinear dynamical systems’ behavior. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Designing Computer-Supported Complex Systems Curricula for the Next Generation Science Standards in High School Science Classrooms
Systems 2016, 4(4), 38; doi:10.3390/systems4040038
Received: 28 August 2016 / Revised: 29 November 2016 / Accepted: 1 December 2016 / Published: 3 December 2016
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Abstract
We present a curriculum and instruction framework for computer-supported teaching and learning about complex systems in high school science classrooms. This work responds to a need in K-12 science education research and practice for the articulation of design features for classroom instruction that
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We present a curriculum and instruction framework for computer-supported teaching and learning about complex systems in high school science classrooms. This work responds to a need in K-12 science education research and practice for the articulation of design features for classroom instruction that can address the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) recently launched in the USA. We outline the features of the framework, including curricular relevance, cognitively rich pedagogies, computational tools for teaching and learning, and the development of content expertise, and provide examples of how the framework is translated into practice. We follow this up with evidence from a preliminary study conducted with 10 teachers and 361 students, aimed at understanding the extent to which students learned from the activities. Results demonstrated gains in students’ complex systems understanding and biology content knowledge. In interviews, students identified influences of various aspects of the curriculum and instruction framework on their learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Approaches and Tools for Managing Complexity)
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Open AccessArticle Causal Analysis of Databases Concerning Electromagnetism and Health
Systems 2016, 4(4), 39; doi:10.3390/systems4040039
Received: 18 October 2016 / Revised: 29 November 2016 / Accepted: 3 December 2016 / Published: 9 December 2016
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Abstract
In this article, we conducted a causal analysis of a system extracted from a database of current data in the telecommunications domain, namely the Eurobarometer 73.3 database arose from a survey of 26,602 citizens EU on the potential health effects that electromagnetic fields
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In this article, we conducted a causal analysis of a system extracted from a database of current data in the telecommunications domain, namely the Eurobarometer 73.3 database arose from a survey of 26,602 citizens EU on the potential health effects that electromagnetic fields can produce. To determine the cause-effect relationships between variables, we represented these data by a directed graph that can be applied to a qualitative version of the theory of discrete chaos to highlight causal circuits and attractors, as these are basic elements of system behavior. Full article
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Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Increasing the Value of Research: A Comparison of the Literature on Critical Success Factors for Projects, IT Projects and Enterprise Resource Planning Projects
Systems 2016, 4(4), 33; doi:10.3390/systems4040033
Received: 1 July 2016 / Revised: 25 October 2016 / Accepted: 27 October 2016 / Published: 7 November 2016
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Abstract
Since the beginning of modern project management in the 1960s, academic researchers have sought to identify a definitive list of Critical Success Factors (CSFs), the key things that project managers must get right in order to deliver a successful product. With the advent
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Since the beginning of modern project management in the 1960s, academic researchers have sought to identify a definitive list of Critical Success Factors (CSFs), the key things that project managers must get right in order to deliver a successful product. With the advent of Information Technology (IT) projects and, more recently, projects to deliver Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, attention has turned to identifying definitive lists of CSFs for these more specific project types. The purpose of this paper is to take stock of this research effort by examining how thinking about each type of project has evolved over time, before producing a consolidated list of CSFs for each as a basis for comparison. This process reveals a high degree of similarity, leading to the conclusion that the goal of identifying a generic list of CSFs for project management has been achieved. Therefore, rather than continuing to describe lists of CSFs, researchers could increase the value of their contribution by taking a step forward and focusing on why, despite this apparent knowledge of how to ensure their success, ERP projects continue to fail. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Enterprise Resource Planning Systems)
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