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9 Examples of a System

A system is a set of interconnected things that work together. This is commonly used to describe the most complex, dynamic and difficult to model entities known. The following are illustrative examples of a system.


Software is divided into two major types: applications and systems. Applications are tools for users. Systems are software environments that automate things. These represent the most complex things ever designed by humankind as a system can have millions of lines of code and interact with hundreds of other systems, data flows and processes. For example, a system at a bank that settles transactions with other banks such that it is integrated with hundreds of internal and external systems.


A network of devices such as the internet -- a system of billions of devices that connect to each other using a set of shared protocols. This represents an extremely dynamic, resilient and chaotic environment for communication and processing.


Biological systems include ecosystems whereby a large number of organisms in a place interact and depend on each other. Organisms themselves are also composed of systems such as the circulatory, respiratory, digestive, excretory, nervous, endocrine, integumentary, skeletal, muscle, reproductive and immune systems of the human body.


A society is an enduring social group that cooperates in complex ways such as a nation. Societies are systems that are composed of other systems such as political, bureaucratic, legal and economic systems.


An economy is a system for the production and distribution of goods, income and wealth. For example, a monetary system is the set of institutions that provide money to an economy as a means of exchange and storage of value.

Soft Infrastructure

Soft infrastructure such as a medical system that includes things like pharmaceutical companies, regulators, medical schools, research organizations and hospitals.

Hard Infrastructure

Hard infrastructure such as a network of train lines, train stations, roads, airports and ports that form a transportation system.


As with a society, a city is a system composed of other systems. For example, a city may include education, political, legal, law enforcement, medical and transportation systems.


Physical processes often represent systems. For example, the solar system whereby eight or nine planets orbit our sun.


Systems are typically so complex that they can't be understood by standard thinking processes such as analysis. The practice of understanding and modeling systems is known as systems thinking.
Overview: System
A complex set of interconnected but independent entities that work together.
Related Concepts

Systems Thinking

This is the complete list of articles we have written about systems thinking.
Cascading Failure
Chaos Theory
Circular Economy
Complexity Cost
Design Thinking
Downward Spiral
Expert Culture
Global Change
Known Unknowns
New Complexity
Opportunity Cost
Positive Feedback
Slippery Slope
Sum Of Parts
Systems Theory
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