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An Ontological Architecture for Principled and Automated System of Systems Composition

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A distributed system's functionality must continuously evolve, especially when environmental context changes. Such required evolution imposes unbearable complexity on system development. An alternative is to make systems able to self-adapt by opportunistically composing at runtime to generate systems of systems (SoSs) that offer value-added functionality. The success of such an approach calls for abstracting the heterogeneity of systems and enabling the programmatic construction of SoSs with minimal developer intervention. We propose a general ontology-based approach to describe distributed systems, seeking to achieve abstraction and enable runtime reasoning between systems. We also propose an architecture for systems that utilize such ontologies to enable systems to discover and `understand' each other, and potentially compose, all at runtime. We detail features of the ontology and the architecture through two contrasting case studies. We also quantitatively evaluate the scalability and validity of our approach through experiments and simulations. Our approach enables system developers to focus on high-level SoS composition without being tied down with the specific deployment-specific implementation details.