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System design is the process of defining the elements of a system such as the architecture, modules and components, the different interfaces of those components and the data that goes through that system. It is meant to satisfy specific needs and requirements of a business or organization through the engineering of a coherent and well-running system.
Systems design implies a systematic approach to the design of a system. It may take a bottom-up or top-down approach, but either way the process is systematic wherein it takes into account all related variables of the system that needs to be created—from the architecture, to the required hardware and software, right down to the data and how it travels and transforms throughout its travel through the system. Systems design then overlaps with systems analysis, systems engineering and systems architecture.
The systems design approach first appeared right before World War II, when engineers were trying to solve complex control and communications problems. They needed to be able to standardize their work into a formal discipline with proper methods, especially for new fields like information theory, operations research and computer science in general.