An alternative is to become semantically clear about the meaning(s) of
function, capability, role, purpose, objective, goal, etc., because each
signifies distinct concepts.
In recent years the distinctions between these have become quite blurred so
perhaps it would be better to sort them out rather than to delete one. The
deletion solution will never end. After function you will have to delete
another one until we are reduced to grunts.
The difference between what a system is designed to do and what it does do can
be clearly established if engineering stops ignoring [independent and objective
test and evaluation of the likelihood of system readiness].
This mini-issue clearly warns of the challenge ahead as precision-oriented
ontologists wade into the sinkhole of babble that has evolved around 'system.'
On Jan 21, 2012, at 4:22 AM, henson graves wrote: (01)
> To be provocative, as an engineer I have come to find the concept of
> function unsuitable for engineering discourse. I generally prefer to have it
> replaced with "role" or "capability". When we are talking about purpose,
> e.g., his purpose is to be a target or to attack targets, role works better.
> Function is often used in engineering in requirements to describe what some
> system is supposed to do. However, in recent years the distinction between
> what a system is designed to do and what it can do gets blurred. So now
> requirements development often starts with what capability one wants. Also
> much engineering analysis concerns can a system perform a capability whether
> it was designed for that or not. Capability also has the advantage in
> requirements development that it is often easier to decompose it into
> activities and implementations which can perform the activities. Of course
> these implementations can be viewed as operations (functions) in a precise
> Perhaps some ontologist would like to respond to this on Feb 2. I can give
> more info if needed
> - Henson
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