Technical Performance Measurement

Technical performance measurement (TPM) is a crucial element in the overall process of systems engineering. It is the underlying basis for evaluating the performance of the architecture alternatives. It also serves as a key ingredient in selecting more detailed design parameters in the form of hardware, software and human components (element 12 in Exhibit 7.1).

Examples of technical performance measures (TPMs) that might be used for different types of systems include the following:

— Probability of detection

— False alarm probability

• For a transportation system:

— Capacity (for passenger and cargo transfer)

— Quality of service

• For a communications system:

— Message error rate

— Quality of service

— Speed of service

— Capacity (number of channels for various classes of communication such as data, voice, video, etc.)

These TPMs represent only a small number of possible measures that must be considered. Some additional measures are represented by the parameters upon which these TPMs are dependent. Such parameters, called technical performance parameters (TPPs), can be illustrated by the following:

• Power required

• Frequency of operation

• Signal-to-noise ratio

• Load (external demand) on the system

The last is especially important because system performance generally degrades as the load on a system increases. Understanding this relationship, in quantitative terms, is a critical aspect of technical performance measurement.

In today's world, technical performance measurement is usually supported by one or more computer-based models and simulations. Thus, this capability is directly related to element 14 of Exhibit 7.1, namely, computer tool evaluation and utilization. The successful systems engineering team has a variety of such tools in place so that system performance can be evaluated as quickly and completely as possible.

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