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A Conceptual Framework for Consistency Management in Model-Based Systems Engineering

[+] Author Affiliations
Sebastian J. I. Herzig, Axel Reichwein, Christiaan J. J. Paredis

Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

Ahsan Qamar

KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden

Paper No. DETC2011-47924, pp. 1329-1339; 11 pages
  • ASME 2011 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 2: 31st Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, Parts A and B
  • Washington, DC, USA, August 28–31, 2011
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5479-2
  • Copyright © 2011 by ASME


Developing complex engineering systems requires the consolidation of models from a variety of domains such as economics, mechanics and software engineering. These models are typically created using differing formalisms and by stakeholders that have varying views on the same problem statement. The challenging question is: what is needed to make sure that all of these different models remain consistent during the design process? A review of the related literature reveals that this is still an open challenge and has not yet been investigated at a fundamental level within the context of Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE). Therefore, this paper specifically focuses on examining the fundamentals of consistency management. We show that some inconsistencies cannot be detected and come to the conclusion that it is impossible to say whether or not a system is fully consistent. In this paper, we first introduce a mathematical foundation to define consistency in a formal manner. A decision-based approach to design is then studied and applied to the development of a real-world example. The research reveals several distinct types of inconsistencies that can occur during the design and development of a system. We show that these inconsistencies can be further classified into two groups: internal and external consistency. From these insights, the ontology of inconsistencies is constructed. Finally, requirements for possible tool support and methods to identify and manage specific types of consistency issues are proposed.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME



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