Some reflections on the work of Dirk Siefkes on formal methods and small systems
When would you call a system “small”?
This is best answered by a question: “compared with what?”. Among all these possible ‘whats’, the human being is a case of high practical relevance in its ambition to analyze, control or participate in a system. Systems can be social, technical or hybrid. They are said to be small iff humans can communicate within them or deal with them easily. Ok, it’s not a precise concept, but that’s not what it is all about.
How would you deal with an “unsmall” system?
It’s as easy as eating a schnitzel: cut it into pieces each of which is bite-sized i.e. ‘small’. Trivial? Depends: when looking at people structuring things, many break down their schnitzels to atom size, since they seemingly don’t differentiate between structuring and detailing. In fact, as far as my experience goes, this is one of the most common mistakes in industrial requirements modeling. It’s probably a good idea then, to keep in mind that ‘small’ units are a sort of lower bound for structuring things in the real world.
- How to deal with heroes? (they don’t like things that are easy to deal with)
- What about sliced bread? (compared with schnitzel)