Fil Salustri's Design Site

Site Tools





Working Definition



Oxford English Dictionary
The style of a building as regards design and construction.
The conceptual structure and logical organization of a computer or computer-based system.

The word “architecture” comes from the Latin architectura and that from Greek αρχιτέκτων (architectu), “master builder”, from the combination of αρχι- (archi-), “chief” or “leader” and τέκτων (tekton), a “builder” or “carpenter”. While the primary application of the word “architecture” pertains to the built environment, by extension, the term has come to denote the art and discipline of creating an actual (or inferring an implied or apparent) plan of any complex object or system.

IEEE Standard for Architectural Description of Software-Intensive Systems (IEEE P1471/D5.3)
The fundamental organization of a system embodied by its components, their relationships to each other and to the environment and the principles guiding its design and evolution.
the character or style of building: the architecture of Paris; Romanesque architecture.
a fundamental underlying design of computer hardware, software, or both.

The Rational Unified Process, 1999: An architecture is the set of significant decisions about the organization of a software system, the selection of the structural elements and their interfaces by which the system is composed, together with their behavior as specified in the collaborations among those elements, the composition of these structural and behavioral elements into progressively larger subsystems, and the architectural style that guides this organization—these elements and their interfaces, their collaborations, and their composition.

Rechtin 1992
Systems architecture: The underlying structure of a system, such as a communication network, a neural network, a spacecraft, a computer, major software or an organization.

Kruchten 1994
Software architecture deals with the design and implementation of the high-level structure of the software. It is the result of assembling a certain number of architectural elements in some well-chosen forms to satisfy the major functionality and performance requirements such as scalability and availability. Software architecture deals with abstraction, with decomposition and composition, with style and esthetics.

Garlan 1994
A critical aspect of the design for any large software system is its gross structure that is, its high-level organization of computational elements and interactions between those elements. Broadly speaking, we refer to this as the software architectural level of design.

B Hayes-Roth 1995
The architecture of a complex software system is its “style and method of design and construction”.

MIL-STD-499C Draft 24 March 2005
A structure of components, their relationships, and the principles and guidelines governing their design and evolution over time.

Space & Missile Systems Center, USAF, Systems Engineering Primer & Handbook
A book on system architecting identifies eight different definitions of system architecture published by various technical organizations and authors. Most of these definitions have to do with some representation of the elements of a system and the way they are structured, interconnected, or organized. Thus, a functional architecture usually refers to some representation of the tasks or functions that a system is to perform and the organization or relationship among the functions. Similarly, a physical architecture usually refers to some representation of the structure or organization of the physical elements of the system. The elements of a physical architecture can represent hardware, software, or both.

The common themes that can be drawn from these definitions are concept, structure and design. A definition of architecture that I find of great practical use is “the conceptual design (noun) of an item, structurally and/or logically” - Robert Halligan.


Note: As of 7 June 2009, none of the samples are linked to actual sources. All the samples were taken from a single INCOSE newsletter. These samples must *all* be validated before they can be accepted here.

Fil Salustri 2009.06.07 18:26

design/architecture.txt · Last modified: 2020.03.12 13:30 (external edit)