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Wednesday, July 12 • 14:00 - 14:30
3113 Towards a Generative Formulation of Mechanistic Systems

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Every discipline of engineering has an extensive body of knowledge relating to the design and analysis of its systems. Systems engineering community (INCOSE) has worked through the commonalities across these engineering disciplines, and created SEBOK, that applies to the design of any kind of system, particularly mechanistic systems across different engineering domains. While there is widespread agreement on the concepts, as articulated in SEBOK, there is still some sense that the field is empirical, and it would be desirable to create formal foundations. For example, it is widely accepted that design synthesis needs to be complemented by analysis and verification – but there is no theoretical basis for explaining why it is needed. The broad agenda for Systems scientists has been to build these foundations and provide the theoretical basis for the different concepts that are found useful by system engineers.

In this paper, an experiment to explore and extend the explanatory power of the commonly accepted concepts in systems engineering is discussed. It formulates an abstraction of a “block” based on existing systems engineering concepts. This abstract concept, “block”, is described in terms of elements such as inputs, outputs, state, characteristics, outcomes and relationships with the context. It is realized recursively as a network/hierarchy of blocks, giving rise to structures and processes that produce the outcomes. It is conjectured that this network/hierarchy of blocks can be generated through recursive application of three operations: decomposition, dependency closure and realization.

The value of the block concept is explored by applying it to explain several of the practices and phenomena in SEBOK, including the Vee model. It leads to a specific framing of the concept of domains, the nature of domain knowledge, and relationships between domains which is presented in this paper. It also provides an explanation of the need for analysis to complement synthesis, as well as subsequent verification. We believe that this conceptual approach holds promise in terms of creating a framework for reasoning about engineering systems. The current formulation is expressed and discussed in conceptual terms, but it could be formalized mathematically. The result would be an abstract mathematical construct that could enable abstract reasoning about systems phenomena and engineering practice, at least for mechanistic systems.

Wednesday July 12, 2017 14:00 - 14:30
2nd Floor, Room SR 125, Institut für Computertechnik,TU Wien Gußhausstraße 27-29, 1040 Wien, Austria

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