System-of-Systems Engineering

The focus of our research in this area is on the ways in which the characteristics of systems of systems call for a transformation of engineering practices. In particular, we see that the successful development of complex systems of systems requires a new set of concepts, a revised set of life-cycle activities, attention to the role of emergence, and the application of a different set of technologies and techniques.

One life-cycle phase we are looking at is requirements engineering. Our investigation tells us that techniques and approaches for requirements engineering in a system-of-systems environment are not well understood because

  • A system of systems is owned and evolved by different organizations.
  • Constituents of a system of systems are at different points in their life cycles.

Several factors complicate the requirements engineering process in the system-of-systems context:

  • scale—increases the flexibility required of constituents of a system of systems while increasing the constraints imposed on the engineered solution
  • multi-domain—constituents from different domains may belong to different domains and a capability may be used in different domains
  • varied operational context—users operating with different workflows and under different business processes may use the same capability
  • decentralized control—a system of systems has more than one decision-making authority
  • rapidly evolving contexts—changes in technology, unpredictable user demands, and other modifications ripple through a system of systems
  • continuous and often disconnected execution of multiple life-cycle phases—constituents often are in different phases of their life cycles and those life cycles may differ from one another
  • opportunistic needs to collaborate and integrate—new demands create new opportunities that require more adaptation by constituents and the system of systems

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Requirements management for systems of systems workshop report