Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University
Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University


The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) System Engineering Guide for System-of-Systems Engineering (Version 1, August 2008) defines four types of systems of systems, directed, acknowledged, collaborative, and virtual.* We focus our research efforts on the first three of those types, directed, acknowledged, and collaborative.

In applying this research to real-world situations, we are seeking collaborations with organizations that looking for system-of-systems solutions through investigations such as

Our research thrusts rest on a set of system-of-systems practices—a conceptual framework, methods, processes, and tools for supporting multiple dimensions of distributed collaboration. Among the practices we are exploring are the following:

  • Distributed, loosely coupled collaboration promotes system-of-systems agility.
  • Independent and continuous evolution means that system-of-systems behavior cannot be completely predicted.
  • Influence is more important than control in getting collaboration between system-of-systems stakeholders.

Based on that set of principles (which we continue to enhance), we view the needs of those types from the viewpoints of governance, engineering, and acquisition.

  • For system-of-systems governance and acquisition, we are looking at the influence and reward structures in system-of-systems collaborations, ensuring relevant stakeholder participation in decision-making, guidance on system-of-systems acquisition and evolution.
  • For system-of-systems engineering, we are working toward the development life-cycle practices by leveraging research and best practices from SOA and other implementation approaches.

Further Reading

 We are looking for collaborating organizations to explore practices that lead to the successful construction and execution of systems of systems.

* The types of systems are also adapted from Maier, M. "Architecting Principles for Systems-of-Systems." Systems Engineering 1, 4 (1998): 267-284.