Uncertainty and How to Approach the Unknown


Uncertainty is one of the most complex issues plaguing systems architecting. Uncertainty occurs in all life cycle phases of architecting any system, yet, there aren't any proven techniques that can make uncertainty completely disappear. However, a smart architect will at least try to account for uncertainty starting at the conceptual phase. Many architects approach uncertainty in their architecture by using models. These models can introduce their own level of model uncertainty since they are based on estimated values. Other example forms of uncertainty that can arise include policy (future budget), market or unknown unknowns (gotcha events) that you cannot plan for such as an asteroid hitting your car. Besides trying to evaluate uncertainty through modeling, other approaches can include choosing two or more formalisms using probability theory, interval analysis, rule based systems, evidential reasoning and possibility theory. No matter what approach is used to try and identify and reduce uncertainty, the architect should also evaluate the probability of undesirable events (risks) associated with any uncertainty, mitigate risks and keep focus on the overall outcomes the customer desires. Three technical papers focusing on ideas for dealing with uncertainty have been chosen for analysis and discussion. These papers will be explored with more detail to help the architect forecast the future. In addition, my own approach to tackling uncertainty which focuses on formulating an uncertainty team will be discussed along with a conceptual model.


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Architectural Modeling; Architectural Models

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

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