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July 2017
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BRAIN: The Role of the Conceptual Invariants Regarding the Prevention of the Software Artefacts’ Obsolescence

Răzvan Bocu and Dorin Bocu from the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Transilvania University of Brașov, Romania, wrote a paper on the role of the conceptual invariats concerning the prevention of the artefacts’ obscolescence, emphasizing the software engineering. The aim is to understand the invariants’ role considering the continuous qualitative progress of the human artefacts, making a connection with software systems engineering. Approaching the artefacts’ obscolence is possible only through changes. They generate discomfort for other artefacts and the amplification of this discomfort beyond a certain tolerance may be called obsolescence.

Structure and behaviour during the specification of an artefact
Structure and behaviour during the specification of an artefact

There are works which underline the importance of the concept of structure during the modeling process of the systemic artefacts and the importance of the interface considering the capability of an artefact to cooperate. The structure (S) and the interface (I) are invariants and they are featured by certain stability (ST). By using these terms, the researchers want to explain which role the stability of these invariants plays regarding the obsolescence of the software systems.

Consequently, they analyze the structure, the behaviour and the change of an artefact. Firstly, the authors develop the necessity for an artefact to restructure, which has two components: the internal dynamics of the artefact and the dynamics of the artefact’s relations with the environment inside which it operates. The paper includes Figure 2, which is a representation of the evolutive model of an artefact in agreement with the exigencies of the operating environment. A better granularity, an increased adaptability, an added degree of scalability, etc, are just some of the essential benefits of an artefact’s evolution. According to this figure, it can be stated that the obsolescence of the software artefacts is unavoidable. However, people have the alternative to address the obsolescence through appropriate methods. The changes represent such a method.

So, changes regarding the evolution of the artefacts’ structure and behaviour appear, and they are of 4 essential types. The researchers tend to explain the changes as being both a necessity and a component of causal chain and, in order to help the reader understand them better, they raise some questions. Is the artefact affected by chaos? Would the artefact benefit from the re-specification of its objectives? Does the artefact require additional efficiency? Does the artefact have problems with its active interaction towards the environmental context?

According to these questions, the adaptation of the artefacts to changes may be divided into technological changes, requirements changes, new modelling paradigm, screening for hidden errors and user assessment on medium and long term. Consequently, they admit that the change may be appreciated as a modality through which an artefact adapts to new requirements in the operaing environment. Therefore, the artifacts survive only if the change exists. Considering the perspective of survival, the change is the expression of an artefact’s behaviour. There are presented two types of changes. Both of them define the artefact’s behaviour, but the difference is that the first type is founded on a given structural invariance, while the second one is associated to a certain reorganization demarche.

In conclusion, Răzvan Bocu and Dorin Bocu admit that the obsolescence of the software artefacts is unavoidable, but, in order to have the guarantee of a good longevity of the artefacts, it is useful to found the modelling of the software artefacts on conceptual invariants, together with clear and pragmatic usage principles for them.

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Mihaela Guţu