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An Introduction to General Systems Thinking [Kindle Edition]

Gerald Weinberg
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $33.95
Kindle Price: $9.98
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Book Description

For more than thirty-five years, An Introduction to General Systems Thinking has been hailed as an innovative introduction to systems theory, with applications in software development and testing, medicine, engineering, social sciences, architecture, and beyond. Used in university courses and professional seminars all over the world, the text has proven its ability to open minds and sharpen thinking.

Originally published in 1975 and reprinted more than twenty times, the book uses clear writing to explore new approaches to projects, products, organizations, and virtually any kind of system.

Scientists, engineers, organization leaders, managers, doctors, students, and thinkers of all disciplines can use this book to dispel the mental fog that clouds problem-solving. As author Gerald M. Weinberg writes, "I haven't changed my conviction that most people don't think nearly as well as they could had they been taught some principles of thinking."

With more than 50 helpful illustrations and 80 examples from two dozen fields, and an appendix on a mathematical notation used in problem-solving, An Introduction to General Systems Thinking may be your most powerful tool in working with problems, systems, and solutions.

John D. Richards said, ". . . this is one of the classics of systems or science of computing. I recommend it to all; it will cause both scientists and nonscientists to examine their world and their thinking. This book will appear on my reading table at regular intervals, and one day I hope to update to the golden anniversary edition."

He continues, "I've found myself returning to An Introduction to General Systems Thinking again and again in the twenty-plus years since I first stumbled across it. I know no better spark to revive a mind that's stuck in dead-end thinking than to open this book, dive into one of Gerald Weinberg's wonderful open-ended questions, and rediscover how one looks at the world."

"This is a book that is a true classic, not in computing but in the broad area of scholarship. It is partly about the philosophy and mechanisms of science; partly about designing things so they work but mostly it is about how humans view the world and create things that match that view. This book will still be worth reading for a long time to come ..." - Charles Ashbacher

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Makes the most generally applicable insights from general systems theorists and from disciplinarians available to the widest audience possible.

From the Author

“When I set out to write An Introduction to General Systems Thinking, I had already written a half-dozen books on thinking -- but all in the context of thinking about computer programming. . . . I decided to leave the programming language business to others and to concentrate on more general principles of thinking. As a result, I first published The Psychology of Computer Programming and then this book. Now, more than a generation later, both books are still around, quietly doing their work.”

--from the preface to the Silver Anniversary Edition

Product Details

  • File Size: 1222 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Weinberg & Weinberg (April 7, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004VS9AUS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,638 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
111 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic in how humans set and solve problems March 22, 2001
In computing, a timeless classic is anything that is worth reading for any reason other than to obtain a historical context after five years. If that still holds true after twenty five years, then it is truly an extraordinary piece of work. That label applies to this book. It is not about computing per se, but about how humans think about things and how "facts" are relative to time, our personal experience and environmental context.
Human thinking is a complex operation and that is the point of this book. The problems and examples presented are not those in computing, but problems in how we think about the world and how that world can be different from person to person. In many ways, Weinberg anticipates the development of the science of chaos, where small changes lead to disproportionate large changes. His example of the "small" change of a single character is a classic. A man was considering the purchase of a piece of real estate, but when told the cost was fourteen million dollars, sent the response by telegram, "No, price too high." However, somehow a character was dropped, so the agent received the message, "No price too high", purchased the property and so a classic error was invented.
Weinberg uses science and mathematics as the genesis point for most of his examples. The laws of thermodynamics, chance and simulations in state spaces are used to demonstrate the points. As someone with a wide background in science, I found his examples of how scientific thought gives us an anchor but yet alters over time excellent learning material. Thought problems are included at the end of each chapter and they cover many different areas. Some involve mathematics, others science and many could be the point of a vigorous philosophical debate.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction... June 5, 2002
By Zentao
Weinberg distills the essence from von Bertalanffy's classic and manages to present it in a very accessible fashion. The book has been out of print for quite a while so it is great to see a new edition. The message and information contained in here, although originally published in 1975, is now more relevant than ever.
Weinberg covers many aspects of systems theory beginning with the main stumbling block with the present scientific paradigm: the idea that the universe is mechanistic. His treatment is much more general than Robert Rosen's in "Life Itself" but still conveys why the mechanistic notion is flawed.
He then outlines the general systems theory approach before leading into the idea that a system is simply a way of looking at the world. He then outlines the principle of indifference. This leads straight into two sections outlining various aspects of making observations. Finally he discusses behaviour and then some general systems questions.
Throughout the book he uses many examples from disparate fields in conjunction with questions for further research. It is great to see someone who doesn't preach systems but actually uses the ideas.
Definitely a must-read as we decided how to solve the myriad of issues before us.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A primer of good and fearless thinking. July 6, 1998
This book is a quiet little masterpiece, where its author shares his observations of his world in a personal way. With the same light touch, he also delves into the thought structures behind these observations. This is practical scientific philosophy with a folksy, conversational, almost homespun, style that never gets lost in abstractions or strays far from living examples in everyday life. Its lack of academic bluster and techo-pomposity is refreshing and informal, yet the insights have a power that cannot help but affect your own thought processes. An example ( for me) is the classification of all systems into three types: Determinate, Medium-number, and Statistical. This notion has proven to be fantastically useful over the years. Several other observations took some nerve to put into print. The net effect of the book is, at its end, also inspirational. Here is someone showing all of us how we can deal with the big, bad world in a friendly, humourous, courageous, and empowered way.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST-READ for any profession April 13, 1999
By A Customer
If I had to select a book that has influenced my thinking most, it would be this one. This book alone spurred my interest in Systems Research, and is one that I have gone back to re-read many times.
Gerald Weinberg has taken the essence of General Systems Theory and formatted it for the masses. His insight into the methodology, and his ability to combine humor with explanation makes this a must-read in the field. While many of the examples are programming-based, that does not detract from the usefullness of this work.
The publisher needs to understand the importance of this work, and put it back into print!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Weinberg's Introduction to Systems Thinking January 3, 2007
Weinberg's book will not teach you how to be a systems thinker. It will, however, provide a stimulating discussion and thoughtful examination of an alternative approach to problem analysis and solution. The book is not so much about how the systems approach works or how it can be applied to complex problems as it is an invitation to his readers to explore their perceptions of what they think they know versus what they really do know. Throughout the book, Weinberg follows the strategy of leading the reader through a series of logical discussions designed to bring them face to face with their biases and misconceptions about systems vs. reductionist thinking. In doing so, Weinberg exposes the shortcomings of the reductionist approach to problem solving by demonstrating to his readers that the real solutions to some familiar and apparently simple problems are very complex.

Through his examples, Weinberg shows that by viewing a system holistically within its environment, we may be able to discern patterns of behavior/actions and recognize interactions, interrelationships, and interdependencies among the components that will be missed in a reductionist approach. From that view, we can better understand the system and, perhaps, better predict how it will evolve over time. The success of his approach is demonstrated by the fact that people are still reading and quoting his book 25+ years after it was written.

One facet of this book which I found beneficial may be a drawback for some readers. Weinberg wrote from the viewpoint of a computer programmer and a scientist. A person not versed in either field might have difficulty understanding his examples.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars way and way to long
This book is way to long, it should have been about one 5th the length. The book is also missing structure, making it hard to skip to the interesting parts.
Published 4 months ago by archie
2.0 out of 5 stars too general to me
too abstract, too high-brow - it is simply beyond me
If you're interested in phylosopthy - the book is for you
Published 13 months ago by Anatoly
5.0 out of 5 stars kindle version of classic text
This kindle version makes a classic text available on your phone or PC - good news for all fans of GS.
Published 13 months ago by Ignorant Monkey
5.0 out of 5 stars How to think
Read and read again. Foundational to every 'smart guy' are these concepts. This will teach you how to be more analytical, and will demonstrate the ways in which you already are.
Published 16 months ago by cody webb
5.0 out of 5 stars Life changing events - and books
Honestly, now. How many people can recollect a life-changing book? Or even an event?

Well, this book was life-changing (my first reading was some 32 years ago, bought... Read more
Published 19 months ago by SimonGWin
5.0 out of 5 stars A framework for thinking
I've spent most of my life wondering why I am drawn to chemists, computer scientists and the law. Although Weinberg doesn't necessarily explain the first part of my quandary, he... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Michael Prell
1.0 out of 5 stars Some good, sabotaged by poor organization and quirky nomenclature
Very disappointed in this. I have no idea how the others rated it so highly. I would possibly give it 1.5 rather than one, but decided one is it in the end. Read more
Published 20 months ago by DeeMee
5.0 out of 5 stars Organizes thoughts of natural system thinkers
This book I bought more than 5 years ago after I recognized that systems approach was needed for memory dump analysis. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Dmitry Vostokov
4.0 out of 5 stars Theory of Systems Thinking
"Systems thinking" is a straight forward concept that concerns an understanding of a system by examining the linkages and interactions between the elements that compose the... Read more
Published on December 31, 2011 by Retired Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Thoughts
Gerald Weinberg book "An Introduction to General Systems Thinking" is one of the best books I ever read. Read more
Published on July 18, 2010 by Helge Loebler
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