The 37th IPP Symposium

The Inculcation of Systems Thinking

Bryan Cantrill '96, Sun Microsystems

Software, even purely algorithmic software, never exists in a vacuum-it becomes a component in a larger system. Such software systems are themselves rarely self-contained: they exist in larger information systems, that are in turn components in yet larger economic, geopolitical and social systems.

While this nesting is not unique to software- nearly all endeavor is a component in some kind of system-software systems are our purest distillations of systems, and as such are the ideal perch from which to take in the vista of the larger notion of systems. In this wider view, patterns emerge; there is much commonality of thinking required to reason about and innovate within these systems.

This talk will explore those commonalities, and how an education can best inculcate the ability to harness them.