Gernot M. R. Winkler

Abstract: Systems and timekeeping have several "interfaces": First, all systems are subject to processes, or better processes are the essential aspect of systems In all these processes, time is the one general, parameter which relates the state or these processes to the state of all other systems. Time is therefore, the universal system parameter (1) Second, since time is the universal system interface, the use of clock in systems is increasing, commensurate with our increasing demands for precision in systems interfacing. We now distinguish a class of "time ordered systems" even though in principle all systems are time ordered) in order to emphasize the precision aspects which necessitate the use of precision chicks (2) Third, all clocks are of necessity systems. systems in which we attempt to repeat the same processes as identically as possible so that we obtain a uniform time scale. Therefore. any system could be used as a clock, albeit, not a very good one, that we ourselves are systems, i.e. clocks, and one can read the time off our faces! For these reasons, since clocks are systems, and are part of systems, a general overlook and introduction to the systems approach has been suggested this appears the more appropriate since some of it, the most critical aspects of the subject, fall somewhat outside the purely engineering frame of mind, the subject is indeed trans-disciplinary. One may even be tempted to claim that these most general, but strategically essential aspects of systems belong to philosophy in its proper sense rather than to any specific technical specialty (3). Exhibit A attempts to sketch the scope of what is known today under various names such as cybernetics or General Systems Theory (GST), both meaning more or less the same (4) What is a System? A system is a group of interacting elements or subsystems which is organized for a purpose. This purpose is clearly external or imposed in the case of artificial or synthetic systems. In natural systems, the purpose is inherent as a heuristic principle (5). The capabilities of a system are often clearly reducible to those of its elements: this is the rule for technological systems of up to rather remarkable sizes and complexities.
Published in: Proceedings of the 10th Annual Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting
November 28 - 30, 1978
Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, Maryland
Pages: 1 - 15
Cite this article: Winkler, Gernot M. R., "INTRODUCTION TO "SYSTEMS APPROACH," Proceedings of the 10th Annual Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting, Greenbelt, Maryland, November 1978, pp. 1-15.
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