Taking It All In: Representing Multiple Systems of Interest in a Single Model

Stephen Powley, Simon Perry

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    The task of identifying a System of Interest (SoI) and its constituent System Elements is central to established Systems Engineering (SE) practice. However, what one stakeholder thinks of as System Elements may be viewed as SoIs by other stakeholders (and vice versa). This is recognised by leading SE reference works, including ISO 15288 and the INCOSE Handbook, but existing Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) techniques fall short when it comes to representing multiple points of view in the same model.
    This shortcoming is one reason why it is often difficult to share model parts effectively within organisations or with suppliers. The result is that multiple models containing their own representations of the same SoI must be created and maintained. This increases the maintenance burden, can lead to inconsistencies, and reduces the ability to understand and control emergent properties.
    These issues are addressed in this paper by proposing a simple underpinning ontology and a modelling technique for capturing multiple system perspectives. The ontology is compatible with leading SE reference works and the technique uses standard Systems Modeling Language (SysML) notation. Using standard SysML ensures broad applicability, due to its wide adoption, and means that the technique can be implemented in any tool that supports SysML.
    The proposed technique marks model elements with multiple stereotypes (e.g. both «system» and «system element»). A tag associated with each of these stereotypes then contains a reference to the context in which that element is considered a «system» or «system element». The inclusion of context references on elements when they are used in a diagram allows anyone using that diagram to see the contexts associated with the stereotypes.
    Broader applications for this technique beyond hierarchical structures are also discussed, including the potential to support multiple, possibly conflicting, ontologies within the same model.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationASEC 2020 Proceedings
    PublisherINCOSE UK
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2020
    EventINCOSE UK Annual Systems Engineering Conference 2020 - Online
    Duration: 17 Nov 202018 Nov 2020


    ConferenceINCOSE UK Annual Systems Engineering Conference 2020
    Abbreviated titleASEC 2020
    Internet address


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