Visualizing Open Computational Systems

There is an emerging field in the design and development of complex systems, where systems are built upon components which in themselves are large scale systems – system of systems. Among other things, the system of systems viewpoint emphasises on open complex systems. In this thesis, the model of open computational systems is used to convey the constituents, dependencies, and interactions of such complex distributed systems.These open complex systems are exposed to critical events, occurring in the systems execution environment. Moreover, these events may have negative effects on the system at hand, resulting in system behaviour diverging from intended. Also, to take all possible affecting events in consideration when designing the system is impossible.By being able to instrument the system at hand in real time, i.e. online, one may be able to compensate the effects caused by critical events. However, to enable online instrumentation, one needs a supporting methodology which handles issues of an online nature and supporting technologies. In this thesis, this support is enabled by the methodology of online engineering and the technology of visualization. Furthermore, these instrumentations can be performed by cognitive agents – both human and software – which may explore and refine a specific system in conformance with their own, or cooperative, agendas and qualitative goals. To be able to perform the instrumentation, the cognitive agents need to be able to observe the phenomenon at hand to gain situation awareness, which in itself lies as a foundation for the decision process, carried out during the instrumentation phase.With this in mind, one quickly realizes the importance of enabling observation of open computational systems for both human and software cognitive agents. If human cognitive agents are involved in applying the methodology; the requirements on how the system is represented for the observing human agent – how the system is visualized – grows even more important. In this thesis, we emphasise visualization technology as a supporting technology for human cognitive agents in their observation process. By providing human cognitive agents with visualization technology, we may enhance the result of their observation process and thereby also increase the possibility to reach their qualitative goals.Hence, visualization of open computational systems affects a human cognitive agent’s situation awareness, which in itself lies as the foundation for the decision making process on instrumentation of the specific system at hand in conformance with the agent’s qualitative goals. This thesis will present an evaluation of a supporting tool for visualization of systemic qualities in open computational systems. Such tool must supply functions which convey the set of requirements put forward by the selected model, method, and technology. Moreover, the evaluation will be accompanied by appropriate recommendations for improvement of such a tool.

Author: Tomas Sareklint

Source: Blekinge Institute of Technology

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