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part definition

  • a portion or division of a whole that is separate or distinct; piece, fragment, fraction, or section; constituent: the rear part of the house; to glue the two parts together.
  • a constituent piece of a machine or tool either included at the time of manufacture or set in place as a replacement for the original piece.

component definition

  • a constituent part; element; ingredient.
  • a part of a mechanical or electrical system: hi-fi components.

  • Distinguish parts which are significant from a design standpoint to fragments (broken glass example)
  • Atomic theory, example of IBM spelled out in Xenon atoms with AFM.
  • Examples of parts
    • Chemistry (functional groups) (reactions)
    • Mechanics (screws)
    • Electronics (resistors)
    • Architecture


  • decomposition of complex structures into simpler pieces
  • different ways to decompose depending on the goal
    • example: mechanical system (support structure) (power transfer)
  • Structural composition
  • Functional composition

Interfaces and standards

  • standard methods of connecting one part to another
    • screws
    • lego blocks
    • electrical wiring
    • plumbing

Hierarchical abstraction

  • Black boxes
  • interfaces between boxes

Decorative components



  • modularity in service of facile change

Applying the notion of parts to biology