What is a System?
The term ‘system’ is derived from the Greek word ‘system’ (to combine), which means an organized relationship among functioning units or components.
A system is a group of interacting or interrelated entities that form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its boundaries, structure and purpose and expressed in its functioning.
A system is an interrelated set of components with an identifiable boundary working together for some purpose.
A computer system refers to the hardware & software components that run a computer or computers and data & people that interact with the computer.
An information system is a system that collects, processes and stores data.
Characteristics of A System
A system has nine characteristics.
- A system is made up of components.
- A component is either an irreducible part or an aggregate of parts, also known as a subsystem.
#2. Interrelated components:
- The components are interrelated, that is, the function of one component is somehow tied to the functions of the other components.
#3. A boundary:
- A system has a boundary within which all of its components are contained
- Boundary separates temporarily one component from the other
#4. A purpose:
- the system’s main reason for existing
- all components work together to achieve common goal
#5. An environment:
- Anything outside the system interacts and affects the system
- the points at which the system meets its environment are known as interfaces
- there are also interfaces between subsystems.
- Functions of the Interface
- Security protecting the system from undesirable elements that may want to infiltrate it;
- Filtering unwanted data, both the elements leaving the system and entering it;
- Coding and decoding incoming and outgoing messages;
- Detecting and correcting errors in its interaction with the environment;
- Buffering, providing a layer of slack between the system and its environment, so that the system and its environment can work on different cycles and at different speeds;
- Summarizing raw data and transforming them into the level of detail and format required throughout the system (for an input interface) or in the environment (for an output interface).
- A system takes input from its environment in order to function. A system cannot function properly if inputs are inaccurate or faulty.
- Finally, a system returns output to its environment as a result to its functioning and thus achieves its purpose.
- A system must face constraints/limitations in its functioning because there are limits (in terms of capacity, speed, or capabilities) to what it can do and how it can achieve its purpose within its environment.