Study of system interfaces through the notion of complementarity

Yana Brovar, Yaroslav Menshenin, Clement Fortin

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Understanding emergence is an important goal of system thinking, as it can express both desirable and negative properties of products and systems. Emergence has also a special importance as it has a direct link to the performance of products and systems, and thus has a direct relationship with the quality of life and thus sustainability in our societies. Emergence and system thinking are closely related to engineering design methodologies. In our paper, we develop a more precise definition of emergence through the core principles of systems complementarity that are similarity, irreducibility and sophisticated relationships expressed through the interfaces between systems, subsystems or product components. We demonstrate the utility of the approach based on an aircraft pylon case study by presenting a detailed definition of an interface design matrix and analyse how pylon subsystems influence emergence. The results have shown that the product can be perfectly represented by a model-based approach supporting interface management and the assessment of system complementarity. In turn, this approach allows to go beyond a qualitative definition of emergence, as it proposes a quantitative approach through the assessment of complementarity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2751-2760
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Design Society
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event23rd International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2021 - Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 16 Aug 202120 Aug 2021


  • Complementarity
  • Conceptual design
  • Design for interfaces
  • Emergence
  • Systems Engineering (SE)


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