3.3 Decomposition of Systems


Decomposition is the dividing of an entity into smaller pieces or constituents. It is one of the most powerful tools in our toolset for dealing with complexity. “Divide and conquer” is a fundamental strategy. Break a problem down into smaller problems until each is tractable. It is no coincidence that Julius Caesar’s account of the Gallic Wars opens with the declaration “All Gaul is divided into three parts.” By the time of classical Rome, this approach was understood and widely applied.

As discussed in Section 2.4, sometimes defining decomposition is easy—for example, when the system is made up of distinct elements. Sometimes the system is modular, which suggests decomposition, and sometimes it is integral, ...

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