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Structure is a fundamental, if intangible, notion referring to the recognition, observation, nature, and stability of patterns and relationships of entities. From a child's verbal description of a snowflake, to the detailed scientific analysis of the properties of magnetic fields, the concept of structure is now often an essential foundation of nearly every mode of inquiry and discovery in science, philosophy, and art.[1] In early 20th-century and earlier thought, form often plays a role comparable to that of structure in contemporary thought. The neo-Kantianism of Ernst Cassirer (cf. his Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, completed in 1929 and published in English translation in the 1950s) is sometimes regarded as a precursor of the later shift to structuralism and poststructuralism.[2]

The description of structure implicitly offers an account of what a system is made of: a configuration of items, a collection of inter-related components or services. A structure may be a hierarchy (a cascade of one-to-many relationships) or a network featuring many-to-many relationships.


Types of structure

Biological structure

In biology, structures exist at all levels of organization, ranging hierarchically from the atomic and molecular to the cellular, tissue, organ, organismic, population and ecosystem level. Usually, a higher-level structure is composed of multiple copies of a lower-level structure.

Chemical structure

Chemistry is the science treating matter at the atomic to macromolecular scale, the reactions, transformations and aggregations of matter, as well as accompanying energy and entropy changes during these processes. The chemical structure refers to both molecular geometry and to electronic structure. The structural formula of a chemical compound is a graphical representation of the molecular structure showing how the atoms are arranged. A protein structure is the three dimensional coordinates of the atoms within (macro) molecules made of protein.

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