System of systems engineering (SoSE)

An important difference to classic system engineering can be described as followed:

“Systems engineering has traditionally been concerned with producing a system to address a problem or need. Thus, the expectation of the effort is on solution. SoSE must cope with a class of complex problems for which a final solution is not necessarily an end expectation. Instead, focus must shift to initial response deployment. This perspective appreciates the inherent need of do something now, characteristic of time pressures for SoSE problems.”[1]

Wikipedia states it pithily in one sentence: "Whereas Systems Engineering focuses on building the system right, Systems of Systems Engineering focuses on choosing the right system(s) and their interactions to satisfy the requirements." Read more

Possibly the biggest challenge of SoSE is balancing the needs of the SoS with the needs of the constituent systems. That's why requirements engineering is a crucial part of SoSE.

One approach to distinct SoS from Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) ist that engineering CPS is mainly about control, whereas SoSE ist mainly about responsibilities, interoperability, and emergent behaviour.[2]


Disciplines in SoSE

By definition many of the current EU funded projects are looking at a range of SoSE techniques in the following areas[2]:
• Validation and Verification
• Simulation and Modelling
• Control
• Certification
• Control of Autonomous Systems
• Monitoring and Control
• Application of SoS architectures, etc.




  1. Keating et al., 2003.
  2. Henshaw et al., The Systems of Systems Engineering Strategic Research Agenda (T-AREA SoS), 2013.


Wiki (start)