System-Process-Function-Goal Meta-ontological Framework (TOGA Meta-theory): Universal Domain Paradigm  


Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment


High-Intelligence & Decision Research Group


An approach to Unified Engineering Meta-Ontology: 

Universal Domain Paradigm

SPG Representation of  Domain-of-Activity

 e-Paper of Adam Maria Gadomski




 SPG is a formal conceptual

  bridge between functional
 (engineering) and physical

 (scientific) points of view on a system. 

 It is a part of the TOGA meta-theory








SPG (System-Process-Goal Approach)  is a conceptual framework(/ meta-model) for the modeling of  real-world goal-oriented (/driven/directed/based/purposive/... ) complex systems in the domains of activity of every intelligent entity/system/agent/personoid.


First time proposed in 1986, at present  it is a part of the TOGA Meta-theory, therefore SPG is also called Universal Domain Paradigm (UDP) for the complete and congruent representation of Domain-of-Activity of personoids (= an abstraction of the essence of human and artificial intelligent systems). 


The objective of UDP is the formal representation of the relation between an engineering, social or natural system and its design-/foundation-/pseudo- goal.


Main advantage of UDP


The UDP  essential innovative aspect relies on the unique, clear and simple definitions and conceptual separation of the concepts:

                       system, process, function and goal.

The key elements of this conceptualization are the synthetic definition of the function concept and  the definition of the carrier relation, not existing before in the subject matter literature.


The application below presented definitions enables to unify formally the designer subjective goal-driven perspective  with the "objective" scientific-technological point of view.


Shortest and most general UDP definitions


system -  abstract or physical object decomposable on other interrelated


               Therefore every system has to have arbitrarily  distinguished       



process - sequence of changes in time of attributes/properties  of a system,

               which are  connected by  cause-consequence relations. Its carrier 

               is a system.

               In the case of an autonomous or not sufficiently known system,

               externally observed processes of its interaction with the               

               environment , are called behavior. If they are executed by agents 

               then they are called actions or activity ( see in TOGA : Universal

               Activity Paradigm, UAP).


function - necessary goal-oriented property of a process or a system. Its

                carrier is a system or process.

                Functions are internal and external.

                External functions of  technological systems are called services.

                Carriers of internal functions are system components.


goal       - state of a system world which this system tends to or should


                In this sense, in TOGA we distinguish  design/foundation goal

                and intervention goal. The last one relates only to the activity of

                agents and is specified in Universal Activity Paradigm (UAP).


design-goal is a property of an existing or planed engineering system. It

                 specifies what this system has to achieve in its environment.

foundation-goal is a property of an existing or planed  organization of   

                 intelligent autonomous agents. Usually it is described in the

                 statute (mission) of human organizations.  

pseudo-goal refers to the natural evolution-based systems. Goal concept

                 is used metaphorically. In similar sense, these systems are

                attributed in pseudo-functions.



During the identification/specification of a system , the above abstract objects form four graph layers: S-P-F-G (system-process-function-goal).



                              carrier relation           carrier relation             necessary for...

Fig.   Graphical representation of the UDP paradigm with carrier and necessity relations.


 carrier  -  system or process with a specific property or which is attributed

               of  something (in physical or in abstract sense). More precisely

                [TOGA meta-theory]:

                if a is a property of an object A then A is a carrier of a.

                The specificity of a results from the context.


 carrier relation - oriented relation between a carrier and its property:

                for example, system S  "is a carrier of" process P .


 necessary relation - oriented relation; it is equivalent to:

                A "is necessary for" B under conditions (X).

                For example, a function Fa  is necessary for the achieving  

                goal Ga  (in the domain of activity D of a designer).


 structure - is described by the  "difference"  between the system

                 description and the description of its well observed components.

                 It means, it is an interrelations network between distinguished

                 system components.

                 In the case of a dynamic system, its structure is determined by

                 an invariant  network of the attributes of the system components.


 component -  is the relative concept. It is any distinguishable physical or

                 abstract element of a system, it can be functional, structural or a

                 process part (when process is seen as a system).

                 It means, a  system without components does  not exist,

                 and the concept "component"  does not exist without a system.

                 Therefore, every component is or can be connected with others.

                 In many cases, one specific component can be used for the

                 construction/configuration of different systems. Usually, in

                 technological devices, as well as in human organizations,         

                 components are removable and substitutable.


Initial Remarks


F In TOGA,  every before defined concept and its instances  are

     considered as  abstract objects,  therefore they may be described

     /modeled in the common attributes space of a problem of interest.


F In the case of the engineering specification  of a system, the first is

     defined  its Goal  (called design-goal), In the case of the  scientific

     research, the first identified  abstract object is a system or process.


F Using designer's preferences and decomposition and specialization

     relations, the top system, process, function and goal can be presented 

     as conected formally: system net, function net, process net and goal net.


F Among others,  the application of the UDP meta-ontology enables also

    the structured diagnostics of abnormalities of natural and engineering

    goal-oriented systems, as well as a conceptual design of the domain of

    decisions for  DSSs (Decision Support Systems).

History: The SPG conceptualization pattern and the  separation of function and process concepts  have been developed in ENEA (proposed by Gadomski 1986-88) for the modeling of nuclear and high-risk plants [A.M. Gadomski. Information about System-Process-Goal Approach to diagnostics and supervisory of nuclear reactor system. Materials of 19th Informal Meeting on Reactor Noises, Rome, June 1986] and described in the form of an ENEA's research report (1988).

 - At present, the SPG Approach  is a part of the TOGA axiomatic assumptions a (meta-ontology) in frame of the KNOCS (Knowledge Conceptualization System).

          Historical Top References

          -  A.M. Gadomski. An Application of System-Process-Goal Approach (SPG) to the

            TRIGA RC1 System Description. Proceedings of "9th. European TRIGA Users

            Conference", Oct., 1986, Roma. Printed by GA Technologies, TOC-19, USA.

            1987, also the ENEA Report  RT TIB/88/2, 1988, .ISSN/0393-6333.

             where the engineering definition of function is proposed  as follows:
             "abstract object defined as a goal-oriented property of a process or a  system"

          - The first  SPG historical html file.                           

          - Full presentation of the SPG approach 
             A.M.Gadomski, Patterns for Conceptualization of Knowledge on 
            Technological Systems and Human Organizations (invited paper). 9th   
             Polish-Italian-Finnish Conference on Systems Analysis and Decision Support
             in Economics and Technology, Radziejowice, Poland. 25-28 Oct. 1993. pdf file.



There are two main application classes of UDP; identification of existing

goal-oriented systems, and specification of  not existing yet engineering products  being designed . The usefulness of UDP is especially seen in the case of large and complex systems when the structuring of knowledge becomes critical for the quality and safety of  human work.

The computer implementation of UDP enables for artificial personoids (such as IDSS - Intelligent Decision Support Systems)  and highly autonomous robots) to recognize and diagnose of industrial plants, service network infrastructure, as well as,  human organizations), especially in high-risk situations.


-  Information on the methodology of the UDP application in frame of  the

 MRUS (Methodological RUles System) subsystem of the TOGA meta-theory, will be added yet.


- for details, see also: TOGA papers.


For references: Adam Maria Gadomski,

An approach to an Unified Engineering Meta-Ontology:  Universal Domain Paradigm: SPG Representation of a Domain-of-Activity.  e-paper, the ENEA Agency MKEM Server (It),, last updating 15 Aug. 2006.

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