Now that you’ve designed the components of a truly great TrapezoidMobile (TM), it’s time to start thinking about how to put it all together into a single coherent unit. Clearly, the TM’s chassis will have spaces to hold the supercomputer, engine, seats, and, well, everything else. Once all of these pieces are put into the chassis, their functions need to be coordinated in order to work together in an effective fashion.
Once the engine, brakes, drive train, and controls are in the chassis, they may make the TM move, but its operation could probably be optimized more. You can fine-tune the engine, and adjust the strength of the brakes in order to increase the ability of the TM to stop quickly or slow down from high speeds. The size and ability of the engine to move the TM faster will change the design requirements of the braking subsystem. This is an example of an interface requirement – the functional interface between the braking system and engine requires both sides to be strengthened. I’m specifying that this is a functional interface, since there may not be a well-defined physical interface between the brakes and the engine (after all, the engine acts on the TM through the wheels and the brakes act on the tires, which is another interface). These interface requirements mean more fine-tuning and optimization of system design.
In my ‘theory’ post for this subject, however, I alluded to discovering new functions and ‘hacking’ your system during integration. Let’s say that, when fine-tuning the TM’s braking system, you start to notice that, under the right conditions, you can generate electric current from the braking system. The supercomputer on board has a cooling system, which increases its capacity for rapid calculations. The cooling system requires power to effectively transfer heat away from the processor.
Here, integration means increasing the TM’s computing power by generating electrical power from the brakes and using this power to improve the efficiency of the supercomputer’s cooling system. The limitation of the ability to both generate power and cool the supercomputer is another design requirement or specification placed on the interface between these systems. By braking, the Fearless Trapezoid can calculate the areas of hypercubes and spheres in different topological spaces.
There is a not-so-subtle analogy here – hybrid vehicles work very similarly to what I’ve described (the Prius’ ‘regenerative braking’ is essentially this concept). Doing this kind of experimentation and tuning allows a development team to discover new system functions and uses, as well as extend and strengthen pre-existing functions and uses of the system.
I was a little hard-pressed to come up with good ‘accidental’ system improvements and discoveries, but I’d love to hear from anyone reading – what’s your experience with integration? Did you find that different parts of a system made the system better, or more complete?
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