Systems Engineering Introduction Book Review
The first chapter of the book “Systems Engineering and Analysis” by Blanchard and Fabrycky (2011) is an introduction to systems engineering. The chapter consists of seven paragraphs, each of which addresses certain aspect of systems science and engineering. The authors focus on defining and classifying systems, explaining elements of a system, and identifying importance and specifics of systems engineering in the Systems Age.
Introduction to system engineering starts with defining the term system and identifying its elements. The authors define system as a combination of elements jointed in a unitary whole by functional relationships. Presence of functional relationships between the items is the most important characteristic of a system that distinguishes it from a simple set of items, while it determines useful purposes of a system.
System composition is another important concept addressed in the chapter. Every system consists of the following elements: components, attributes, and relationships. Components are the parts of a system that may be represented by physical items, intangible objects, or even other systems. Every system component and the system as a whole have attributes that characterize them in terms of quality, quantity, configuration, state etc. The attributes determine certain component’s function within system and their relationships with one or more other elements of the system.
Having defined the term system and identified its elements, the authors provide a classification of systems aimed at forming better understanding of a wide variety of systems. Systems are classified according to dichotomies approach on the base of their origin, form, state, and degree of interaction with their environment. The first and the most significant classification distinguishes systems depending on their origin into natural, human-made, and human-modified. Depending on the form, systems are divided into physical and conceptual. Static and dynamic systems are identified according to presence or absence of operating, flow, and behavioral components. The last dichotomy describes systems as closed or open based on the degree of interaction of a system with environment.
Scientific background of systems engineering is the next issue addressed by the authors. Firstly, systems engineering has been significantly contributed by cybernetics in terms of optimal control of complex processes that can be applied to system control. More specifically, systems and their formation are studied by the science of systemology. At the same time, interdisciplines evolved, as a result of synthesis between the science and humanity, and science and technology, which contributed to systems engineering study as well.
In the next paragraph of the chapter, the authors provide definition of technology, identify its connection to human society, civilization and culture, and define technical systems. Technology is viewed at as a broad concept including mechanical arts, engineering, applied science, and the ways of creating or obtaining the material objects of certain civilization. Technical system, in its turn, refers to human-made artifacts, such as technical products and processes. In this regard, the authors express their concern on the impact that technical systems have on the natural environment, and emphasize the necessity of responsible design and implementation …