John N. Warfield

John N. Warfield

John Nelson Warfield (1925) is an American systems scientist, who was professor and director of the Institute for Advanced Study in the Integrative Sciences (IASIS) at George Mason University.


Warfield was born in 1925 and grew up in Missouri, and studied at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Originally he majored in chemistry and minored in mathematics, but his studies were interrupted by World War II. After basic training in the U. S. Army Infantry, the Army put him in a specialized training program to study electrical engineering, which he found very interesting, especially electronics and communications. [ John N. Warfield Background] , retrieved 24 August 2007.] After the war he completed his original undergraduate program and continued on to get advanced degrees in electrical engineering. He received the Bachelor of Arts in 1948, Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1948, and Master of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1949 from the University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri. He received the Doctor of Philosophy degree from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana in 1952. [ [ John N. Warfield] picture. 1952] His major was electrical engineering with a specialty in communications engineering.

He has about 10 years of industrial experience with these firms: Wilcox Electric Company, Battelle Memorial Institute, and Burroughs Corporation. His longest service in this group was with the Battelle Memorial Institute from 1968 to 1974, where he held the title Senior Research Leader. [ [ J.N. Warfield] short resume. ] His industrial experience included theoretical and experimental research, electronic development and reliability testing of navigational equipment for jet aircraft. [ [ John Nelson Warfield - School of Public Policy - George Mason University ] ]

He has been elected President of the Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (formerly called the Society for General Systems Research). He served as Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics from 1968 to 1971, and as founding Editor-in-Chief of the Pergamon journal "Systems Research", during the period 1981-1990. Warfield is a member of the Academic Committee of the International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics

He is a Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and holds that organization's Centennial Medal. He is a member of the Association for Integrative Studies.

In 2006 John N. Warfield was awarded the Joseph G. Wohl Award for Career Achievement at the 2006 annual meeting of the IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society. This is the highest award given by the society, and is not awarded every year. He was awarded for his contributions to systems engineering concepts, methodology, design, education and management. Warfield was also awarded the IEEE Third Millennium Medal.


Warfield's areas of expertise are Systems Science, Complexity and Cognitive Pathologies. Warfield has described as passing through four phases: John N. Warfield, [ "Autobiographical Retrospectives: Discovering Systems Science"] in: "International Journal of General Systems", December 2003 Vol 32 (6), pp. 525-563.]

* "Electrical engineering faculty 1948-65": The first phase caused him to develop an appreciation for detail and honed his respect and love for mathematics, but it also developed an understanding of the gulf that often developed between mathematical models and physical phenomena.
* "Starting systems science research 1966-80": In the second phase, he was asked to explore how complexity and difficult situations could be brought within the grasp of organizations. This caused him to delve into areas that were new to him, and caused him to learn much about human behavior and about philosophy. He was surprised to see how much was learned in the second half of the 20th century about human fallibility as individuals, in groups, and in organizations. He was also amazed to see how slowly progress had been made in formalizing human thought. And yet it became clear that great strides were made in this area in England in the 19th century with the work of George Boole and Arthur Cayley and, especially, of Augustus De Morgan, even though his work was largely ignored by the community of philosophers.
* "Developing components of systems science, 1980-2000": In the third phase, colleagues began to use the products that had been developed in the second phase, and significant empirical evidence of efficacy began to arise. He was able to collaborate with a few of these colleagues and gain insights that enabled improvements to be made, including the development of metrics of complexity and laws of complexity that remain to be discovered by most of the people who write about complexity.
* "Reorganizing and systems science emerge: 2000-04": Finally, after retiring from his university position, he was surprised to discover that he had really discovered systems science.

Systems engineering

Warfield wrote one of the first papers ever written on Systems engineering:
* 1956, "Systems Engineering", United States Department of Commerce PB111801.
* 1957, "How to Improve Systems Engineering", Aeronautical Engineering Review, 16(7), July, 1957, 50-51.

Interpretive Structural Modeling

Out of this relatively uninterrupted period of study starting in 1968 and ending in 1974, Warfield was able to develop the process that he called "Interpretive Structural Modeling" or ISM. This drew on the timely work of Frank Harary and colleagues a process called the Nominal Group Technique for eliciting information from groups.

This process had very superior attributes, which was largely annulled some behavioral aspects that otherwise nullified what could be done effectively with groups.

This process was founded in mathematics that was largely developed by DeMorgan in England and Peirce in the United States in the 19th century, and summarized was very nicely by Frank Harary and his colleagues at the University of Michigan, who made the connections to graph theory.

Interactive Management

In 1980 Alexander Christakis and Warfield started a Center for Interactive Management at the University of Virginia. They coined the term "Interactive Management" (IM) to represent the collection of ideas that had grown around the core ISM process. Included in this collection was:
* the DELTA Chart, which Doug Hill and Warfield developed at Battelle in the early 1970s,
* the Ideawriting process, which came from Battelle researchers in Frankfurt, Germany, and
* the Options Field/Options Profile methods that Warfield developed at the University of Virginia.

They then added something called the "Tradeoff Analysis Method", which came to us from Bob McDonald of the U. S. Forest Service, who was one of the early sponsors.

Proposal for Systems Sciences

In his article "Proposal for Systems Sciences" he found systems science to consist of a hierarchy of sciences. [ John N. Warfield, "A proposal for Systems Science", in: Sys Res Beh Sci, Vol 20 (2003), pp. 507-520. ] .
* Beginning at the base, with a science of description,
* continuing vertically with a science of design,
* then a science of complexity,
* and next a science of action, called "Interactive management".He and his colleagues needed only two processes to work through all of these sciences. Whatever else might be needed in specific applications would be identifiable at the conclusion of the application of the "Work Program of Complexity", which was the central outcome of this 38-year research odyssey. It would no longer be necessary to be “sold” on a particular method at the beginning of a study, but rather one could always start with a basis in systems science.


Warfield is the author of eight books and about 100 papers. [ [ LIST OF PUBLICATIONS] : Complete list of publications of John N. Warfield, retrieved 25 August 2007.] His books:
* 1958. "Synthesis of Linear Communications Networks". with G. E. Knausenberger, New York: McGraw-Hill.
* 1959. "Introduction to Electronic Analog Computers". Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.
* 1963. "Principles of Logic Design". Boston: Ginn and Company.
* 1976. "Societal Systems: Planning, Policy, and Complexity". New York: Wiley Interscience.
* 1990. "A Science of Generic Design: Managing Complexity through Systems Design". Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press 1994.
* 1994. "A Handbook of Interactive Management". With Roxana Cárdenas, Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press 1994.
* 2002. "Understanding Complexity: Thought and Behavior". AJAR Publishing Company, Palm Harbor, FL.
* 2003. "The Mathematics of Structure". AJAR Publishing Company, Palm Harbor, FL.

Articles, papers and monographs, a selection:
* 1956. "Systems Engineering". United States Department of Commerce PB111801.
* 1957. "How to Improve Systems Engineering". "Aeronautical Engineering Review", 16(7), July, 1957, 50-51.
* 1969. "What is System Planning?". With R.W. House, in: "Automatica" Vol. 5, 1969, pp. 151-157.
* 1972. "A Unified Systems Engineering Concept". With J. D. Hill, "et al", "Columbus: Battelle Memorial Institute, Monograph No. 1", June, 1972.
* 1974. "Structuring Complex Systems". "Columbus: Battelle Memorial Institute Monograph No. 4", April, 1974
* 2003. "A Proposal for Systems Science". In: Systems Research and Behavioral Science, Vol. 20 (2003), pp. 507-520.
* 2003. [ "Autobiographical Retrospectives: Discovering Systems Science"] . In: "International Journal of General Systems", December 2003 Vol 32 (6), pp. 525-563.


External links

* [ Warfields] homepage at the George Mason School of Public Policy, 2007.
* [ J.N. Warfield] short resume
* [ John N. Warfield] background.
* [ International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics]

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