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systems, processes, and tools

·2 mins

What are systems, processes, and tools?

Systems are a collection of things interacting. Things such as people and computers, manual and automated processes, physical tools and software tools.

Processes are sequences of actions or operations that might be performed by a person or computer, either a manually operated computer (the combination of a person and computer performing the action within the process) or an automated computer.

Tools are either physical things a person uses to perform some action (like a hammer) or tools are computer software1 used to achieve operations within processes that involve computers (either operated manually by a person or automatically by the computer).

definition of System #

from Wordnik


  1. A group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole, especially.
  2. An organism as a whole, especially with regard to its vital processes or functions.
  3. A group of physiologically or anatomically related organs or parts.

definition of Process #

from Wordnik


  1. A proceeding or moving forward; progressive movement; gradual advance; continuous proceeding.
  2. Course; lapse; a passing or elapsing; passage, as of time.
  3. Manner of proceeding or happening; way in which something goes on; course or order of events.

definition of Tool #

from Wordnik


  1. A device, such as a saw, shovel, or drill, used to perform or facilitate manual or mechanical work.
  2. A machine, such as a lathe, used to cut and shape machine parts or other objects.
  3. The cutting part of such a machine.

what is this? #

This is the contents of a note I started writing to develop my understanding of the definitions of these concepts. I’ve shared this as a blog post today but I’ll create a lab note for it in the future where I will iterate on it. I will probably remember to come back here and add a link to that when I create it…

  1. In the world of software development and systems engineering, “tool” might only refer to particular types of computer software. It depends on who you are talking to. Other common terms include application, app, webapp, service, program, procedure, function, and indeed system. Things that are operated and interacted with via command-line environments are often referred to as CLI tools. ↩︎