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Second Generation of System Approach: system-of-interest created by system creators

The second generation of the systems approach was mainly based on the ideas of systems engineering: physical (including cyber-physical, including cyber-physical with people) systems were created by humans, not reproduced cyclically, and these systems were primarily inanimate. This problematized the concept of the life cycle, which turned out to be neither life-related nor cyclical, although the concept itself remained. In the second generation, systems of creation (enabling/constructor systems) emerged, which introduced not only the part-whole relationship for systems but also the creation relationship for system creators, who created and developed the target system (most well-known are the works of Peter Checkland from the late 1970s and early 1980s).

The diagrams of systems engineering emphasized the "waterfall" model of the life cycle, in which the system was conceptualized, designed, realized, tested, operated, and then usually project ended. All these activities were mainly carried out by the living system itself (some tasks were performed through the system's evolution, but this was usually not considered), while in engineering, these activities were carried out by creation systems. Different roles (stakeholders) in the creation system exhibited different interests/concerns regarding the system and its project, requiring various types of views/descriptions, which were developed based on certain viewpoint methodologies, suitable for discussing the various interests of different project roles.

ISO standards 42010 and 15288 secured the conceptualization of the system for systems engineering, ensuring that the second generation systems approach's systems engineering ontology was shared. The formalization of the system ontology based on 4D extensionalism (the idea that if two objects occupy the same space-time, they are the same object - a physical object) was proposed in ISO 15926-2 in 2003, based on the BORO ideas, leading to the development of several other similar ontologies, mainly for military applications, led by the IDEAS Group. Particularly notable is the work of Matthew West, who in 2010 proposed the HQDM ontology based on the same 4D extensionalism ideas, making the concept of a system central to the ontology. All these approaches assumed not only the specification of conceptualization but also the formal expression of conceptualization in logical ontology description languages (such as EXPRESS and the later popular OWL) for creating data models in PLM databases systems.

The peak of this line of work on engineering understanding of the system within the second generation systems approach occurred between 2008-2013, after which interest in such formal-logical ontological system descriptions slightly diminished. The creation of ontologies as an explicit formal specification of shared conceptualizations was no longer perceived as progress towards AI, and even rebranding formal ontologies as knowledge graphs did not help. The Semantic Web methods supported by tools based on OWL remained niche, with Web 3.0 as a semantic web expected to become the future mainstream internet but semantic methods, supported by tools based on OWL, remained niche.