What Is a Mono-system, a Bi-system, and a Poly-system ?
Part 1

As was mentioned in the last month's Editorial, the TRIZ notions were never properly defined. Accordingly, people interpret them as they pleased, depending on the level of their mental capabilities, though.

"Mono-", "Bi-" and "Poly-system" are examples of such notions. Fey & Rivin, for instance, interpret them as follows: mono-systems are systems consisting of single objects; bi-systems are systems consisting of two objects; poly-systems are systems consisting of many objects. It is apparent from their articles and books. For example, they write: "Systems usually originate as single objects - mono-systems... An example of a mono-system is a pencil...Mono-systems can be combined to form higher-level systems: bi-systems (i.e., pencil+eraser), or poly-systems (i.e., a set of more than two different pencils)" (see e.g. V.Fey and E.Rivin, "Guided Technology Evolution (TRIZ Technology Forecasting)")

Such an interpretation of mono-systems as single objects was hilariously ridiculed by G. Filkovsky in his article "Fey-Rivin Law of a Higher-Level Vacuity". He wittily noticed: "A pencil is hardly a single object. Everyone knows that pencil consists of at least two distinct objects - a lead and a holder."

Recently Filkovsky posted his notes at www.amazon.com as a review on the latest Fey's book "Innovation on Demand : New Product Development Using TRIZ", giving it rating zero. Shortly thereafter, reviews by Fey's friends appeared on Amazon, extolling the book and giving it rating "*****" (five stars). Filkovsky's review was reported as a bad item and deleted from Amazon. It appears that Amazon does not tolerate objective reviews. It only posts reviews that facilitate selling its books, regardless of their quality. Thereby Amazon misleads buyers and entices them into buying unworthy books !

But let's come back to our rams (as people in Baku say). So, is the transition from mono- to bi- and to poly-systems just a laughable rubbish, or Fey and Rivin simply do not understand what a mono-system is ? The latter seems to be more probable.

Mono-system is definitely not a single object. Mono-system is a system that has one function (under the normal circumstances); which were designed specifically for this function. For example, pencil was designed with one function in mind - to draw something. And this is its only function (under the normal circumstances, of course). In the abnormal situations pencil can be used for many other purposes, ranging from pricking the foe to soothing the itch in the ears.

Similarly, pencil with an eraser is indeed a bi-system because it has two functions and not because it consists of two objects, as Fey and Rivin assume. Otherwise we would have to assume that the tandem Rivin & Fey is also a bi-system because consists of two people. Whereas in fact it is just a mono-system, whose only function is to write ridiculous and good for nothing books on TRIZ !