Rapid Architecture Alternative Modeling (RAAM): a framework for capability-based analysis of system of systems architectures
Iacobucci, Joseph Vincent
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The current national security environment and fiscal tightening make it necessary for the Department of Defense to transition away from a threat based acquisition mindset towards a capability based approach to acquire portfolios of systems. This requires that groups of interdependent systems must regularly interact and work together as systems of systems to deliver desired capabilities. Technological advances, especially in the areas of electronics, computing, and communications also means that these systems of systems are tightly integrated and more complex to acquire, operate, and manage. In response to this, the Department of Defense has turned to system architecting principles along with capability based analysis. However, because of the diversity of the systems, technologies, and organizations involved in creating a system of systems, the design space of architecture alternatives is discrete and highly non-linear. The design space is also very large due to the hundreds of systems that can be used, the numerous variations in the way systems can be employed and operated, and also the thousands of tasks that are often required to fulfill a capability. This makes it very difficult to fully explore the design space. As a result, capability based analysis of system of systems architectures often only considers a small number of alternatives. This places a severe limitation on the development of capabilities that are necessary to address the needs of the war fighter. The research objective for this manuscript is to develop a Rapid Architecture Alternative Modeling (RAAM) methodology to enable traceable Pre-Milestone A decision making during the conceptual phase of design of a system of systems. Rather than following current trends that place an emphasis on adding more analysis which tends to increase the complexity of the decision making problem, RAAM improves on current methods by reducing both runtime and model creation complexity. RAAM draws upon principles from computer science, system architecting, and domain specific languages to enable the automatic generation and evaluation of architecture alternatives. For example, both mission dependent and mission independent metrics are considered. Mission dependent metrics are determined by the performance of systems accomplishing a task, such as Probability of Success. In contrast, mission independent metrics, such as acquisition cost, are solely determined and influenced by the other systems in the portfolio. RAAM also leverages advances in parallel computing to significantly reduce runtime by defining executable models that are readily amendable to parallelization. This allows the use of cloud computing infrastructures such as Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud and the PASTEC cluster operated by the Georgia Institute of Technology Research Institute (GTRI). Also, the amount of data that can be generated when fully exploring the design space can quickly exceed the typical capacity of computational resources at the analyst's disposal. To counter this, specific algorithms and techniques are employed. Streaming algorithms and recursive architecture alternative evaluation algorithms are used that reduce computer memory requirements. Lastly, a domain specific language is created to provide a reduction in the computational time of executing the system of systems models. A domain specific language is a small, usually declarative language that offers expressive power focused on a particular problem domain by establishing an effective means to communicate the semantics from the RAAM framework. These techniques make it possible to include diverse multi-metric models within the RAAM framework in addition to system and operational level trades. A canonical example was used to explore the uses of the methodology. The canonical example contains all of the features of a full system of systems architecture analysis study but uses fewer tasks and systems. Using RAAM with the canonical example it was possible to consider both system and operational level trades in the same analysis. Once the methodology had been tested with the canonical example, a Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) capability model was developed. Due to the sensitive nature of analyses on that subject, notional data was developed. The notional data has similar trends and properties to realistic Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses data. RAAM was shown to be traceable and provided a mechanism for a unified treatment of a variety of metrics. The SEAD capability model demonstrated lower computer runtimes and reduced model creation complexity as compared to methods currently in use. To determine the usefulness of the implementation of the methodology on current computing hardware, RAAM was tested with system of system architecture studies of different sizes. This was necessary since system of systems may be called upon to accomplish thousands of tasks. It has been clearly demonstrated that RAAM is able to enumerate and evaluate the types of large, complex design spaces usually encountered in capability based design, oftentimes providing the ability to efficiently search the entire decision space. The core algorithms for generation and evaluation of alternatives scale linearly with expected problem sizes. The SEAD capability model outputs prompted the discovery a new issue, the data storage and manipulation requirements for an analysis. Two strategies were developed to counter large data sizes, the use of portfolio views and top `n' analysis. This proved the usefulness of the RAAM framework and methodology during Pre-Milestone A capability based analysis.