Streams in Systemic Thought

An extensive map of  works related to systemic thought is presented by the International Institute for General Systems Studies (IIGSS, 2001). This map was originated by E. Schwarz in 1996. It includes the influences of researchers in the domains of mathematics, physics, computer science, engineering, cybernetics, systemics, biology, ecology, sociology and philosophy from ancient times to the present.

With the permission of Jeffrey Yi-Lin Forrest (director of IIGSS), B. Hadorn updated the map with  recent works in the fields of cybernetics, systemics and coordination. Because the latest source files of that map was missing, he completely redraw it with graphml, an open source format for graph design.

Legend of Map

The nodes denote topics, such as scientific work or research areas. Major influences between the topics are illustrated by directed edges. The color-code of nodes and edges correspond the major scientific realm:

  • white: general system
  • red: cybernetics
  • black: physical sciences
  • blue: mathematics
  • dark red: computers & informatics
  • green: biology & medicine
  • yellow: symbolic systems
  • orange: social systems
  • light green: ecology
  • gray: philosophy
  • cyan: systems analysis
  • purple: engineering


  • 1996: Creation by Dr. Eric Schwarz, Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
  • 1998: Extension including items from the « The Story of Philosophy » by Will Durant (1933).
  • 2000-2001: Elaboration from many sources for the International Institute for General Systems Studies.
  • 2016: Extension by Benjamin Hadorn, Fribourg, Switzerland.

Next Step :Your contribution!

Feel free to extend and correct the graph. Please send an updated version to us in order to keep a current version online. Thanks !
Download source file in graphml here.


International Institute for General Systems Studies. (2001). Some Streams of Systemic Thought. Originated in 1996 by Dr. Eric Schwarz, Neuchâtel, Switzerland.