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A technical system is characterized by component systems and system elements, surrounded by system boundaries, and interconnected with one another and the surrounding environment. They are subject to environmental effects, external and internal side effects, as well as the influence of people and their repercussions for people.

To design an “efficient” system, with respect to the origins of the word, means that it must be effective. This effectiveness can be determined based on three optimization criteria; effort, function, and quality. In turn, these criteria can be subdivided into a long list of various other characteristics.