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Toward integrating systems engineering with software engineering through Object-Process Programming

Abstract

Modern systems comprise hardware and software components that together provide value through enabling the functionality that the system is intended to provide. Systems engineering (SE) and software engineering (SwE) are therefore interdependent, tightly coupled, and complementary activities that must be carefully aligned and coordinated throughout the system development process. Yet, these two disciplines have historically grown quite separated from each other, with too little interaction and mutual learning. In this work, we develop and evaluate Object-Process Programming (OPP) as a proof-of-concept for a common framework that integrates SE and SwE based on ISO 19450—Object-Process Methodology. The ability of designers to use the same paradigm for engineering the software, the hardware, and the system as a whole, using the same concepts and principles and the same design environment, described and discussed in this work, is a major step towards the integration and streamlining of engineering new systems that feature significant hardware and software components. To evaluate OPP, we established a focus group and conducted an experiment in which participants were asked to develop systems using OPP. Overall, the results were positive in terms of usability and understandability. In particular, the language and the environment were far superior in comparison to textual languages. OPP will contribute to the continuous endeavor to bridge the gap between SE and SwE by providing a seamless, easy-to-learn environment. Non-technical stakeholders can also benefit from OPP by improving their communication with technical stakeholders. The ideas underlying OPP have already served to augment OPM with computational capabilities.

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Notes

  1. In OPM, shadow denotes a physical thing, as opposed to informatical things, but since in software everything is informatical, OPP uses this notation to denote that an object is global. This is an example of a conflict that needs to be resolved when OPM-based programming is integrated into OPM. Indeed, in OPCloud [21] we use a different notation.

  2. This is another example of deviation from OPM’s meaning of a dashed contour of an object, and in OPCloud we use a different notation.

  3. In OPM, agent link is reserved for a human or a group of humans as enablers.

  4. http://github.com/vainolo/Object-Process-Programming.

  5. http://esml.iem.technion.ac.il/.

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Correspondence to Ahmad Jbara.

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See Table 6.

Table 6 Student questionnaire

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Jbara, A., Bibliowicz, A., Wengrowicz, N. et al. Toward integrating systems engineering with software engineering through Object-Process Programming. Int. j. inf. tecnol. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41870-020-00488-8

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Keywords

  • Conceptual modeling
  • Software engineering
  • Systems engineering
  • Software modeling
  • Model-based systems engineering (MBSE)
  • Cyber-physical systems
  • Hardware-software co-design
  • Visual programming
  • Visual programming languages
  • Object-Process Methodology (OPM)
  • Object-Process Programming (OPP)