System Architecture Definition

Emergence refers to what appears, materializes, or surfaces when a system operates. Obtaining the desired emergence is why we build systems. Understanding emergence is the goal—and the art—of system thinking. What emerges when a system comes together? Most obviously and crucially, function emerges. Function is what a system does: its actions, outcomes, or outputs [1].

John Holland on emergence

The view of emergence as a phenomenon generated by combining building blocks contrasts with the view of emergence as a holistic phenomenon. A holistic phenomenon, by definition, cannot be reduced to an interaction of parts. Clearly, the studies here allow for reduction. However, the reduction goes beyond the traditional reduction wherein “the whole is equal to the sum of its parts.” [2]

1. Systems Architecture by Cameron, Bruce; Crawley, Edward; Selva, Daniel. Pearson Education Limited, Global Edition. ISBN 10: 1-292-11084-8
2. Signals and Boundaries: Building Blocks for Complex Adaptive Systems" by John H Holland, The MIT Press, 2012. ISBN 978-0-262-01783-1