Introduction to S-systems and the underlying power-law formalism

Michael A. Savageau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


A novel approach to the development of an appropriate formalism for representing organizationally complex systems began in the mid 1960's with a search for a general systematic formalism that would retain the essential nonlinear features and that would still be amenable to mathematical analysis. The set of nonlinear differential equations that most closely approached this goal was called an "S-system", because it accurately captures the saturable and synergistic properties intrinsic to biological and other organizationally complex systems. In the early 1980's it was found that essentially any nonlinear differential equation composed of elementary functions could be recast exactly as an S-system. Thus, S-systems may be considered a canonical form with the ability to represent an enormous variety of nonlinear differential equations. This has given rise to new strategies for the mathematical modeling of nonlinear systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)546-551
Number of pages6
JournalMathematical and Computer Modelling
Issue numberC
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes


  • Canonical nonlinear forms
  • differential equations
  • organizationally complex systems
  • strategies for nonlinear modeling
  • synergistic systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Modeling and Simulation


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