International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics

2nd Edition, as published by Charles François 2004 Presented by the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science Vienna for public access.


The International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics was first edited and published by the system scientist Charles François in 1997. The online version that is provided here was based on the 2nd edition in 2004. It was uploaded and gifted to the center by ASC president Michael Lissack in 2019; the BCSSS purchased the rights for the re-publication of this volume in 200?. In 2018, the original editor expressed his wish to pass on the stewardship over the maintenance and further development of the encyclopedia to the Bertalanffy Center. In the future, the BCSSS seeks to further develop the encyclopedia by open collaboration within the systems sciences. Until the center has found and been able to implement an adequate technical solution for this, the static website is made accessible for the benefit of public scholarship and education.



Any rational attempt to predict future events.

Forecasting is of course different from divination.

Its results are not, however in many cases much better, because its methodology is shaky.

L. DOUGLAS KIEL signals: "The static nature of traditional linear and deterministic models… provide at best a "snapshot" of reality with, most likely, only short-term relevance. The determinism generally embedded in traditional linear models inhibits dynamics that may arise over time. This can result in naïve extrapolation based on static relationships between relevant variables" (1992, p.35).

This is, for instance, the reason why no high level decision maker had any idea that the massive use of insecticides would derive in the selection of resistant varieties of pests or even that the appearance of some resistant individuals was a serious problem. Similarly, until AIDS surged, nearly nobody seriously believed that new diseases could suddenly emerge, and still less how and why.

The general cause of this type of problems is that most systems are nonlinear, with the result signaled by WD. GROSSMANN and K.E.F. WATT "Actual mathematical chaotic behavior has indeed been observed since 1976 in most areas of science and in many technological areas. As a consequence it will always be impossible to anticipate everything. It could even be speculated that unpredictable behavior of systems might even increase their viability" (1992, p4).

K.DE GREENE proposes an "evolving system- fields" methodology of forecasting, as opposed to the commonly used "context-free mechanistic forecasting" (1991).

He argues that this last methodology is obsolete and useless in a world in swift evolution and that it leads to "… rather weak and naive" results, of which he gives numerous examples. He states: "… context-free mechanistic forecasts often assume an unchanging social structure, a continuing preeminence of present kinds of values and motivations, and a continuity of the political and economic status quo" (Ibid., p.62).

He could even have added ecological status quo.

In his opinion, what we need is a type of "holistic forecast (in line with) the concept of fields within fields within fields" (p.66), i.e. taking in account differential trends at short, medium and long term, whose more or less periodic interferences can produce the conditions for considerable and even catastrophic quantitative and qualitative changes (of which we have seen quite numerous ones during this century).


  • 1) General information
  • 2) Methodology or model
  • 3) Epistemology, ontology and semantics
  • 4) Human sciences
  • 5) Discipline oriented


Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science(2020).

To cite this page, please use the following information:

Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]

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