Any system able to shift from one internal state to another as a response to variations in its environment.
It would be very difficult to conceive a living or a social system that should not be adaptive, at least respect to a variety of changes relevant to its survival.
R.L. ACKOFF writes: "A system is adaptive if, when there is a change in its environmental and/or internal state which reduces its efficiency in pursuing one or more of its goals which define its function(s), it reacts or responds by changing its own state and/or that of its environment so as to increase its efficiency with respect to that goal or goals" (1972).
According to W. BUCKLEY, an adaptive system must be able to perceive variety and constraints in its environment, and to adjust its internal organization accordingly (1974).
It must necessarily have sufficient internal variety in order to shift from one adapted state to another, when needed. Furthermore, it must possess an array of positive and negative parameters defined feedbacks, that will allow it to respond to a definite range of disturbances.
Living systems in general, are more or less adaptive: Among them animal societies and populations; human individuals and sociocultural systems.
An interesting bibliography on adaptive systems is given by G. KLIR (1991, p.161).
J. HOLLAND developed a generalized and formalized model of the adaptive system (1992, p.20;24;28)
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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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