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Preliminary Impressions of FMC

The previous post shared Prof. Siegfried Wendt’s newest explanation for the theoretical foundations of FMC (Fundamental Modeling Concepts). The explanation is very precious since it represents the individual thoughts of creator and explains the basis of FMC from a more profound and general perspective than in FMC documents. It is also very enlightening for more general topics of modeling.

One of the keywords in the explanation is discrete dynamic system, what I also always think as a basic starting point (or as a worldview) to modeling a thing such as an enterprise or the application. Another keyword in the explanation is material which “can be matter, energy or information.” As shown in FMC documents, its target is software-intensive systems, i.e., informational system [1], therefore the material addressed is just information; that is, the present FMC is indeed a specific implementation based on the idea described in Wendt’s explanation for general discrete dynamic systems.

Modeling discrete dynamic system is a basic study in Systems Engineering (SE), which is very concentrated on mathematical model that based on a variety of variables (parameters) for control or simulation, thus, that is usually difficult to have substantial borrowing for modeling such as an enterprise or the business application in practice. Wendt’s idea, however, shows a quite concise unified way to model them — not just informational. For example, it seems to be feasible to use the FMC model a system which operating on material exchange (matter or energy, but not information), such as, a logistics system.

Of course, there are already much of general / unified modeling languages, for example, UML. FMC holds, however, a very simple objective, as repeatedly stressed in its documents: for human understanding and communication about the system being modeled. As pointed out in Wendt’s email to me (May 23, 2013 23:51), this is the unique; He argued that other people who developed modeling methods,

were not primarily interested in improving human understanding. They were convinced that mastering complexity requires the help of software tools. Therefore, they developed modeling methods primarily for producing formal input for such tools. From this input the tools should generate further formal results such as code to be executed by computers.

And he “was convinced from the very beginning that mastering complexity requires excellent structured graphics which help all people involved to better understand the overall ideas behind the systems considered.”

While FMC does not appear popular (isn’t it?), it seems successful to the objective, as well as in such the usability and expressiveness. the successful use for modeling such as SAP R/3® system (and more big real-life systems) to support the actual development and training, seems enough big case to prove that (see here, I’ve looked at SAP bluebook but didn’t know the graphics are by FMC).

With the excellent human-understandability, FMC has also certain mathematical / formulized background, which can be seen from its documents of metamodel, where some formulized definitions are presented. I prefer to pay more attention to the combination of them: it seems quite closed to my ideal which is laid upon my philosophy for computing: the models (in use) should satisfy three conditions: human-understandable / operational, computer-treatable, and evolutionary with the changing of the target as well [2]. It would be highlighted here again the formalized or computer-treatable NOT equal to so-called executable or interpretation. FMC metamodel seems to be a good example, there is an interesting comparison with the development of BPMN.

A recent movement of FMC appears to combine with UML (see here, and there is an open source project for FMC on Eclipse). It may be useful but I have some doubts: does it compliant with the excellent original thought by Prof. Siegfried Wendt? I think it has a bigger space then present FMC yet.

[1] The informational system is defined as “A system is called informational if the essential point of the issues that are observed in different places in the system is not their material or energetic appearance but their interpretation.” (from www.fmc-modeling.org/glossary)

[2] Yu, Tong-Ying. “Model-Driven Applications: Using Model-Driven Mechanism to Bridge the Gap between Business and IT.” In Advances and Applications in Model-Driven Software Engineering. Díaz, V.G. et al. eds. IGI Global, August 2013 (in press)


About TY

interested in models & modeling, software, information systems, applications & engineering for enterprises


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