Modeling and Simulation Data Integration – Inviting Complexity

Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

Posted: July 21, 2016 | By: Dr. Gary Allen

System Engineering Processes

In addition to the tools there are also system engineering processes in place which provide a consistent and stabile environment for the design of M&S networks. The application of processes is also an excellent way to reduce risk as their application will, at the very least, help ensure the most significant factors of the design are accounted for. One point that is not inherent in using a process but is a frequent point of failure, especially when there is a requirement to replicate the design, is record keeping. Often the design record is little more than personal knowledge of the people involved and their notes. Therefore it is critical that some form of official records be captured and maintained. The earlier mentioned FEAT is one method of having a transcript of how the network was designed.

Two of the processes that are widely used are also recognized standards. There is the IEEE Recommended Practice for Distributed Simulation Engineering and Execution Process (DSEEP) and the Distributed Simulation Engineering and Execution Process Multi-Architecture Overlay (DMAO).

DSEEP – This recommended practice defines the processes and procedures that should be followed by users of distributed simulations to develop and execute their simulations; it is intended as a higher-level framework into which low-level management and systems engineering practices native to user organizations can be integrated and tailored for specific uses (IEEE, 2011).

Distributed Simulation Engineering and Execution Process (DSEEP) top level process flow view

Distributed Simulation Engineering and Execution Process (DSEEP) top level process flow view

DMAO – The DSEEP Multi-Architecture Overlay (DMAO) (IEEE Std 1730.1) is intended as a companion guide to the DSEEP (IEEE Std 1730™-2010).1 The simulation environment user/developer should assume that the guidance provided by the DSEEP is applicable to both single- and multi-architecture developments. The DMAO provides the additional guidance needed to address the special concerns of the multi-architecture user/developer (IEEE, 2013).


In this paper the terms ‘system’ and ‘complexity’ have been used repeatedly. Both of those terms are represented by bodies of research covering System Theory and Complex Systems Theory. The use of these terms in this paper is not intended to imply that this is a contribution to those bodies of knowledge but rather the point of this paper is to highlight aspects of M&S design that can either intentionally or unintentionally be made more difficult through the combination of architectures that were not designed to work in unison. The lesson here is that if the designers want an artificially contrived network to function they will have to force it to do so.

In closing the following recommendations are offered. First, the designers should question the need for combining M&S architectures. By asking the question, ‘Do we really need to do it this way?’ brings out a need to look at what is driving the requirement. What are the technical reasons for combining architectures? Is there a situation where certain models or simulations will only function in specific environments therefore we need to combine the architectures or is the effort being driven for the sake of technology. Otherwise stated as; we are making the design complex because we can. Second, whether the design calls for a single architecture or the combination of architectures the designers should work with recognized standards.

This limits risk and cost because you are working with reliable systems. There is a false belief that restricting the use of standards restricts innovation. It isn’t standards that restrict innovation but rather it is designers that will only accept doing things a certain way that restricts innovation. By way of comparison, all of the parts in a Tesla automobile meet some internationally recognized standard yet these cars represent some of the most innovative designs of the last 50 years. Third, keep good records. Setting up an M&S network should not be for a onetime use. It is through these records that designers can not only replicate a successful design but also find ways to improve and apply innovative solutions to make future use more efficient and cost effective.

Complexity, in and of itself, is not necessarily a negative concept but where possible M&S network design benefits by not inviting more. Following the recommendations given will help avoid that situation.

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