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architecture, noun

fundamental orderliness (embodied in its components, their relationships to each other and the environment), and the principles governing the design, implementation and evolution, of a system

[Source: adapted from ANSI/IEEE 1471-2000]

Remark: The architecture is usually the top level of abstraction of the system in that it is the main factor which forms that system. The distinction between architecture, design and implementation, is illustrated by the Intension/Locality thesis [41]:

  • architectural specifications are intensional (i.e. there may be many possible instances) and non-local (i.e. mandatory for all parts of a system);
  • design specifications are intensional and local;
  • implementation specifications are extensional (i.e. only one instance is possible) and local.
Fundamental concepts or properties of a system in its environment, embodied in its elements, relationships and in the principles of design and evolution. 

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