Structure of the SEBoK

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The SEBoK is divided into seven parts, the first six of which focus on domain-independent knowledge, and the seventh part devoted to implementation examples.


Part 1: SEBoK Introduction

To help you get the most out of the SEBoK, this part explains the scope, context, and structure of the SEBoK, and then turns to aspects of systems engineering (SE) itself that matter as you begin to use the SEBoK: SE's economic value, history, future, and relationship to other disciplines. An overview of who should use the SEBoK, and for what purpose, is followed by detailed use cases. This part concludes with a summary of how the SEBoK has evolved.

Part 2: Foundations of Systems Engineering

Stating what systems are, this part covers systems fundamentals and moves on to describe systems science in terms of history and major questions, systems thinking as a set of ideas to be used in SE, and how systems are represented with models. It concludes by looking at how to take a systems approach to an engineered system (ES), which leads naturally into the next two parts, which are concerned with SE management and applications.

Part 3: Systems Engineering and Management

How systems are engineered is the subject of this part, which begins with the life cycle models common in SE, then moves on to SE management, where planning, measurement, risk, and quality are among the topics. Next is product and service life management, a distinct area of SE management that emphasizes the entire life cycle including retirement and disposal. An account of SE standards concludes this part. Focused on what many think of as the main body of SE, including best practices and common pitfalls, this part constitutes a substantial proportion of the SEBoK. It is anticipated that this part and the following parts will reflect increased emphasis on model-based systems engineering (MBSE) practices as these practices continue to evolve and become more mainstream.

Part 4: Applications of Systems Engineering

This part covers how to apply SE principles as defined in the previous part, focusing on four major categories of systems in turn: products, services, enterprises, and systems of systems (SoS).

Part 5: Enabling Systems Engineering

The subject of this part is how to organize to perform SE activities, at the enterprise, team, or individual level. The range of considerations extends from value proposition, business purpose, and governance, down to competency, personal development as a systems engineer, and ethics.

Part 6: Related Disciplines

How SE is intertwined with software engineering (SwE), project management (PM), industrial engineering, procurement and acquisition, and specialty engineering, is the subject of this part, which describes the various system “–ilities” (like reliability, availability, and maintainability) that SE must balance and integrate.

Part 7: Systems Engineering Implementation Examples

A set of real-world examples of SE activities forms the natural conclusion of the SEBoK. These come in two forms: case studies, which refer the reader to and summarize published examinations of the successes and challenges of SE programs, and vignettes, which are brief, self-contained wiki articles. This part is a key place to look within the SEBoK for lessons learned, best practices, and patterns. Many links connect material in the examples to the conceptual, methodological, and other content elsewhere in the SEBoK.


The SEBoK contains a Glossary of Terms, which provides authoritatively-referenced definitions of key terms. It also contains a list of Primary References, with additional information about each reference. Quicklinks in the left margin provide additional background information, including a table of contents, a listing of articles by topic, and a list of Acronyms.


As you navigate the SEBoK, it may be useful to consider the relationships among the elements of the SEBoK and those found in its external environment. Figures 1 and 2 from the article Scope and Context of the SEBoK express those relationships. These figures are an outgrowth of a systems modeling language (SysML) concept map whose development, application, and iteration were key activities when the SEBoK was being written.



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SEBoK v. 1.6 released 25 March 2016

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