Systems are characterized by interdependence, mutual interaction, information feedback, and circular causality. Food systems are complex adaptive systems. Four characteristics common to complex adaptive systems allow them to adapt and evolve. They are diversity, flow, non-linearity and aggregation (“Design of Complex Adaptive Systems” Monostori, L. and Ueda, K. 2006).
Systems research is a way to understand this complexity and address wicked problems. Researchers start with the premise that behavior is a consequence of structure. Systems researchers combine qualitative and quantitative methods to advance the understanding of the dynamic interactions between structural components. This approach is used in many fields of study. Biological systems (medicine and public health), engineering systems (Artificial Intelligence and CyberInfrastructure), environmental systems (ecology), and human systems (sociology, economics and anthropology) all study systems at different scales and from different perspectives. Agroecology studies interactions between natural and human systems.