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System-of-Systems Laboratory
School of Aeronautics & Astronautics
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  system-of-systems Laboratory

This webpage provides an overview of the System-of-Systems Laboratory mission and the characteristics of the problems being investigated via a developing system-of-systems engineering methodology.




Problems of increasing complexity are facing decision-makers within today's government and industry, and the moniker of "system-of-systems" is increasingly being applied to many of these challenges. With multiple, evolving, heterogeneous, distributed systems involved and embedded in networks at multiple levels, a guiding methodological framework is needed to enable adequate decision-support. A holistic framework is sought to enable decision makers to discern whether related infrastructure, operational, policy, economic, and/or technology considerations together will be effective, ineffective, or indifferent over time. The need to address these problems as systems-of-systems is urgent and critical, because they involve decisions that commit large amounts of money and resources, for which ultimate failure or success carries heavy consequences for society now and for many future generations.




The mission statement for the on-going research in the System-of-Systems Laboratory can be summarized as: generation of system-of-systems formulations/tools/processes to understand and bound complex problems and create an ability to determine sensitivities and guide policies/decisions/visions. Mathematical modeling and object-oriented frameworks for the design of system-of-systems; approaches for robust design, including robust control analogies and uncertainty modeling/management in multidisciplinary design are just a few if the key elements of the SoSL's teams efforts. In order to achieve this mission statement, the methodology of our undertaking for system-of-systems is summarized on this webpage.


Class of
Problems and Application


System-of-systems (SoS) refers to a special class of challenges that extend beyond engineering of complex, monolithic assets. SoS problems are categorized by an evolving collection of distributed, heterogeneous, networks of systems, each of which are capable of independent and useful operations, combined to produce emergent (and enterprise) capabilities not obtainable by individual systems alone. Additional features that make design relatively complex: presence of multiple managerial entities and requiring use of inter-disciplinary modeling and analyses efforts. [1, 2]

Application problem domains for design via SoS methodology are numerous, including but not limited to problems in: defense, air transportation, space exploration, homeland security, emergency response, energy, healthcare, information exchange services (e.g., internet), city infrastructure services, etc. Example application areas the SoSL research team is currently working on are described in the Projects section. Further demonstration of the applicability of our research methodology to problems in many application domains is illustrated in the vastness of the course project titles listed in the Courses section under AAE 560 (System of Systems Modeling and Analysis) Student Projects.




Fundamental research methodology in the SoSL is based on a revised, three phase Process Model for System-of-Systems Engineering. The Process Model provides a guiding framework for model-based engineering for SoS challenges via the execution of three phases summarized in Figure below. Application of SoSE methodology seeks to improve informed decision making by enabling modeling and simulation of integrated design solutions--SoS architectures--for analysis and evaluation, so as to provide insights into relative structure and performance of various combinations of technical, operational, policy, and economic design decisions.

3 Phase Process Model for System-of-Systems Engineering
Figure: A Three Phase Process Model for System-of-Systems Engineering [DeLaurentis, Sindiy, et al.]


Participation / Collaboration


Opportunities are available for industry, government, and university collaboration, as well as new faculty and student involvement. Please visit the SoS Community Building section for more information.

A summary of the recent SoSL collaborations are described in the Projects section.




[1] Maier, M., "Architecting Principles for System of Systems".

[2] DeLaurentis, D.A., "Understanding Transportation as a System-of-Systems Design, Problem," 43rd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting & Exhibit, Reno, NV, 10-13 Jan. 2005. AIAA Paper No. 2005-123.

DeLaurentis, D., Crossley, W., "A Taxonomy-based Perspective for System of Systems Design Methods," IEEE System, Man, & Cybernetics Conference, Hawaii, 10-12 Oct. 2005. IEEE Paper No. 0-7803-9298-1/05.

DeLaurentis, D.A., Callaway, R.K., "A System-of-Systems Perspective for Future Public Policy Decisions," Review of Policy Research, Vol. 21, Issue 6, Nov. 2004, pp. 829-837.

A complete set of publications, addressing specific methodological contributions and application problems, can be found in the Publications section of this webpage.

Copyright 2016 by Dr. Daniel DeLaurentis. All rights reserved.