Inderscience Publishers

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

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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

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