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behavior modeling systems

An architect planning a building works on the overall design, making sure it will be pleasing and useful to its inhabitants. While a single architect by himself may be enough to build a single-family house, many engineers may be needed, in addition, to solve the detailed problems that arise when a novel high-rise building is designed. If the job is large and complex enough, parts of the architecture may be designed as independent components. That is, if we are building a housing complex, we may have one architect for the complex, and one for each type of building, as part of an architectural team.

Large automation systems also require an architect and much engineering talent. If the engineered system is large and complex enough, the systems architect may defer to a hardware architect and a software architect for parts of the job, although they all may be members of a joint architectural team.

The architect should sub-allocate the system requirements to major components or subsystems that are within the scope of a single hardware or software engineer, or engineering manager and team. But the architect must never be viewed as an engineering supervisor. (If the item is sufficiently large and/or complex, the chief architect will sub-allocate portions to more specialized architects.) Ideally, each such component/subsystem is a sufficiently stand-alone object that it can be tested as a complete component, separate from the whole, using only a simple testbed to supply simulated inputs and record outputs. That is, it is not necessary to know how an air traffic control system works in order to design and build a data management subsystem for it. It is only necessary to know the constraints under which the subsystem will be expected to operate.

A good architect ensures that the system, however complex, is built upon relatively simple and “clean” concepts for each (sub)system or layer and is easily understandable by everyone, especially the user, without special training. The architect will use a minimum of heuristics to ensure that each partition is well defined and clean of kludgeswork-aroundsshort-cuts, or confusing detail and exceptions. As user needs evolve, (once the system is fielded and in use), it is a lot easier subsequently to evolve a simple concept than one laden with exceptions, special cases, and lots of “fine print.”