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## June 10, 2008

### Notes on Reductionism: Why we must embrace holism?

On the Melange blog Mayank, wrote the following post on reductionism a problem solving technique:

"Reductionism has always been the problem solving technique in sciences
and associated disciplines. In reality solving a problem by reduction
means transforming the problem into simpler problems and constructing
or deducing solution of the original problem from the solution of the
new problem. For example a student is given a problem to calculate the
sum of all numbers between 1 and 101 which are not divisible by 3.
Working a direct solution for this will be tedious so it is solved
reductively. The required sum is the difference between sum of all
numbers between 3 and 99 which are divisible by 3. Both sums can be
calculated as arithmetic series. Thus the original problem is
subdivided into sub problems of calculating arithmetic series which is
actually nothing but reductionism (Armoni, Gal-Ezer & Tirosh 2005,
p. 114). On the hand the term systems approach derives its base from
holism or holistic thinking. The term holism was coined by South
African philosopher Jaan Christiaan Smuts. He argued (Anderson, H 2001,
p. 155) that “a unity of the parts could be so close and intense as to
be more than the sum of its parts.” Smut explains the philosophy behind
holism and systems thinking. Systems thinking usually deals with
complex systems. Now a complex system unlike a conventional single
feedback system comprises of numerous subsystems and the overall
behavior of the system relies on the interaction of these systems. So
the system output is not as simplistic and is not merely a sum total of
the constituent entities."

Continue reading this content at the Melange blog

Posted by ACASA on June 10, 2008 at 10:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)