Any interaction involves three primary components: the individual units, the individual relationships among units, and the collective whole of the individual units and their relationships. Although different types of interactions involve different types of units and relationships, these components define the core pattern of interactions.

This core pattern can be compared to simple mathematics, which involves the terms (numbers and/or variables), the expressions (terms and operations), and the solution of an equation. In this comparison, terms represent units, expressions represent the relationships among units, and the solution is a synthesis of the units and their relationships. Although mathematics is a specific context, the comparison suggests the variety and complexity of potential interactions that can be derived from this core pattern.