What is a System?

A system is a collection of components which work together to achieve a specific goal. These components are connected to maintain communication when they work together. However, they have independent functionalities. Therefore, each component is another system, named as a subsystem, which carries out tasks to achieve some objectives of the original system.

Example 1: The Human Body

Our human body is a complex system which contains several components which acts as subsystems. The human body consists of complex muscle, bone, respiratory, digestive and circulatory subsystems, each providing a specific task of the overall system.

Let’s consider one such subsystem, respiratory which provides oxygen to human body. Some components of the respiratory subsystem such as nasal passages, lungs etc. can be considered as a subsystem. On other hand, respiratory system communicates with digestive system as two independent components of human body.

Example 2: A School

A particular school can be considered as a component of education system in this country (a university may be another one). At the same time, a school itself is a complete system that includes a principal, teachers, equipment and classrooms which are its components. Viewing complex systems as a collection of subsystems may help us handle complexity and improve our understanding of the system.

System components and concepts

In abstract terms, a system consists of three main components and few communication links. They are Input, Process and Output. Feedback is one communication link.

System boundary defines the scope of the system with respect to the environment it operates. Simply, it defines the system by distinguishing it from everything else in the environment.

System Types

Considering various features, we can classify systems into different categories as follows :

• Simple or complex
• open or closed
• stable or dynamic
• adaptive or non-adaptive
• permanent or temporary


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