Title: Why optimisation of a system of systems is both unattainable and unnecessary

Authors: Patrick T. Hester

Addresses: National Centers for System of Systems Engineering, Old Dominion University, 4111 Monarch Way Suite 406, Norfolk, Virginia 23508, USA

Abstract: The operational and managerial independence, geographic distribution, emergent behaviour, and evolutionary development that characterise a system of systems (SoS) also ensure that it is impossible to truly optimise it. However, using the concept of satisficing, we can declare that a 'good enough' solution is in fact, sufficient. Why are we all right with this potentially unsettling notion in the context of a system of systems? In part, due to the principle of finite causality introduced in this paper, stating no system outcome can have infinitely bad (or good) implications; thus, the outcome of any action or series of actions is finite in nature. This realisation further bolsters the acceptability of an inherently sub-optimal SoS. This paper explores the notions of why optimisation of a SoS is both: 1) unattainable based on its inherent characteristics and associated systems principles; and 2) unnecessary in practice.

Keywords: system of systems; SoS optimisation; satisficing; finite causality.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSSE.2012.052691

International Journal of System of Systems Engineering, 2012 Vol.3 No.3/4, pp.268 - 276

Received: 17 Dec 2012
Accepted: 17 Dec 2012

Published online: 16 Aug 2014 *

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