Definition of element of a system

Component, part or element of a system.

NOTE: This article deals with elements or components of a system within systems theory. If you are looking for information about elements of a computer system see: computer resource or resources of a computer system. For electronic components of a computer see: electronic component.

From the point of view of systems theory, a system can have parts or components, which we explain in the next section below: Components or parts of a system.

Components or parts of a system

Every system is made up of parts or components. These parts can also be systems (called subsystems).

The components of a system, to be constituent parts of it, must be related to each other, otherwise it is not a system (see holism and synergy). The definition of a system implies that its component parts must relate to each other.

For example, a computer, from a system point of view, is made up of multiple parts. Some of those parts are subsystems like hard drives, motherboard, CD drive, etc. and simple parts that are not systems such as screws, rivets, etc.

A system is more complex the more parts and the more interconnections there are between those parts. As a result of these interactions between the elements, new properties emerge (emergent properties) that cannot be explained by analyzing those elements in isolation. For this reason, the more elements a system has, the more «unexpected» properties it can have.

Scheme of a system

Example of parts of a system: a fan

We are going to study a fan seen as a system.

Is it a system? Yes, because it has components that interact with each other for a purpose.

– Purpose of the system: To provide ventilation.
– Class of system: artificial system (it is designed and manufactured by man).
– Component parts: blades, protection grid, casing, keypad, motor (subsystem), wiring…
– Input: electrical power, air, commands (on, off and speed)
– Output: wind.
– Emergent property: noise.

Fan seen as a system

elements of a system

But the word «elements» can also be understood in another way that we explain below:

A system has three basic elements of input, processing, and output. The other elements include control, feedback, boundaries, environment, and interfaces.

– Input: are the data, material and energy that the system receives to produce a certain message.

– Output: What leaves the system after processing is known as output.

– Process: the process involved in transforming input into output is known as Processing or Process.

– Control: To obtain the desired results it is essential to monitor and control the input, processing and output of the system. This job is done by the control.

– Feedback: The output is checked against the desired standards of the output set and the necessary steps are taken to achieve the output according to the standards, this process is called Feedback. It helps to get much better control in the system.

– Limits: The limits are nothing more than the borders of the system.

– Environment: Things outside the boundaries of the system are known as the environment. Changes in the environment affect the operation of the system.

– Interfaces: The interconnections and interactions between subsystems are known as Interfaces. They can be inputs and outputs of the systems.

For more information on this topic read the definition: System.

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