Through a Glass, Darkly? Taking a Network Perspective on System-of-Systems Architectures

CSD&M 2018
A system-of-systems architecture can be thought of as a complex network comprising a set of entities of different types, connected together by a set of relationships, also of different types. A systems architect might attempt to make use of the analytic tools associated with network science when evaluating such architectures, anticipating that taking a “network perspective” might offer insights into their structure. However, taking a network perspective on real-world systemof-systems architectures is fraught with challenges. The relationship between the architecture and a network representation can be overly simplistic, meaning that network-theoretic models can struggle to respect, inter alia, the heterogeneity of system entities and their relationships, the richness of their behavior, and the vital role of context in an architecture. A more mature conceptualization of the relationship between architectures and their network representations is required before the lens of network science can offer a usefully clear view of architecture properties.
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