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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontological Means for Systems Engineering

To: <ian@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Matthew West <dr.matthew.west@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2009 13:26:19 -0000
Message-id: <4979c58f.3189260a.5734.ffffca90@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Dear Ian,



The big challenge in ontology is to figure out what’s different about a system to any other physical item.

[MW] I agree

Why is a car considered a system, but a rock isn’t, for example.  We had a lot of debates around this in IDEAS meetings. You can easily ascertain the extents of aircraft, armoured vehicles, etc., but the extent of the classes each nation were calling system differed. The UK framework (MODAF) saw a system as any kind of man-made object that had functionality (i.e. cars=yes, rocks and humans = no). The Canadians were very specific that a physical object only became a system when it was manned, maintained and ready to function – a narrower set than the UK one. The US (DoDAF) description was similar to the UK but also included humans/animals. So, we had three overlapping classes, each of which was called “system” by different parties. By extensional analysis, we worked out that what MODAF calls “CapabilityConfiguration” was an exact match for the Canadian “System”.


[MW] Well I don’t think any of those are wrong, but perhaps a little restrictive. The two things that characterise a system for me are:


1.       It has a function/capability/purpose.

2.       Has parts that can be replaced by functionally equivalent parts.




Matthew West                           

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