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The scale and complexity of systems is increasing dramatically. Ultra-large-scale (ULS) systems are systems of unprecedented scale in some of these dimensions:
The sheer scale of ULS systems changes everything. ULS systems will necessarily be decentralized in a variety of ways, developed and used by a wide variety of stakeholders with conflicting needs, evolving continuously, and constructed from heterogeneous parts. People will not just be users of a ULS system; they will be elements of the system. Software and hardware failures will be the norm rather than the exception. The acquisition of a ULS system will be simultaneous with its operation and will require new methods for control.
These characteristics may appear in today’s systems and systems of systems, but in ULS systems, they will dominate. Consequently, ULS systems will place unprecedented demands on software acquisition, production, deployment, management, documentation, usage, and evolution practices.
The ULS systems notion has inspired us to ask new questions about software-reliant systems:
The SEI strives to answer these questions and to develop principles and technology to understand, control, and bound the behavior of systems that exhibit characteristics of ULS systems. Specifically, we focus on socio-adaptive systems and cyber-physical systems.
The book Ultra-Large-Scale Systems: The Software Challenge of the Future is the product of a 12-month study of ULS systems software led by the SEI in 2005-2006. The study brought together experts in software and other fields to examine the consequences of rapidly increasing scale in software-reliant systems. The report detailed a broad, multidisciplinary research agenda for developing the ULS systems of the future.
Spotlight on Ultra-Large-Scale Systems
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