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A deterministic system is a conceptual model of the philosophical doctrine of determinism applied to a system for understanding everything that has and will occur in the system, based on the physical outcomes of causality. In a deterministic system, every action, or cause, produces a reaction, or effect, and every reaction, in turn, becomes the cause of subsequent reactions. The totality of these cascading events can theoretically show exactly how the system will exist at any moment in time.

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  • Deterministic system (philosophy)
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  • A deterministic system is a conceptual model of the philosophical doctrine of determinism applied to a system for understanding everything that has and will occur in the system, based on the physical outcomes of causality. In a deterministic system, every action, or cause, produces a reaction, or effect, and every reaction, in turn, becomes the cause of subsequent reactions. The totality of these cascading events can theoretically show exactly how the system will exist at any moment in time.
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  • A deterministic system is a conceptual model of the philosophical doctrine of determinism applied to a system for understanding everything that has and will occur in the system, based on the physical outcomes of causality. In a deterministic system, every action, or cause, produces a reaction, or effect, and every reaction, in turn, becomes the cause of subsequent reactions. The totality of these cascading events can theoretically show exactly how the system will exist at any moment in time. To understand this concept, start with a fairly small system. Visualize a set of three dominoes lined up in a row with each domino less than a domino's length away from its neighbors. Once the first domino has toppled, the third domino will topple because the second will topple upon being contacted by the first domino. Small deterministic systems are easy to visualize, but are necessarily linked to the rest of reality by an initial cause and/or final effect. To go back to the dominoes, something outside the system has to cause the first domino to topple. The last domino falling might cause something else outside the system to happen. And the system itself must be considered in isolation—if external forces such as hurricanes, earthquakes or the hands of nearby people were taken into consideration, the final domino toppling might not be a predetermined outcome. Complete isolation of a system is unrealistic, but useful for understanding what would normally happen to a system when the possibility of external influences is negligible. Complex physical systems are necessarily built using simpler ones, and using isolated systems as a starting model can help bridge the gap and aid in understanding. The domino example is developed in the Petri net computational model. This example assumes that dominoes toppling into each other behave deterministically. Even the above-mentioned external forces which might interrupt the system are causes which the system did not consider, but which could be explained by cause and effect in a larger deterministic system.
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