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A Radio Astronomer and an Architect Walk into a Bar...

May 2018 Presentation
John Klein

This talk describes the problem of designing the architecture for a radio telescope that will process data equivalent to 10 times the global internet traffic.


Software Engineering Institute



The Square Kilometre Array is a massive project: 131,000 antenna elements and receivers to control and monitor (in just one antenna array), and petabytes of data generated and processed daily. In a project this size, architecture documentation is critical to reduce integration risk, especially at subsystem interfaces. The interface syntax must be correct, and the interface semantics must be well designed and understood. What is the error handling approach? How should the interfaces evolve over the system's 50-year life? What is assumed about the state of a subsystem when a request is issued?

This talk is about a seven-day workshop that taught just enough about software architecture documentation principles to the subsystem designers to enable them to immediately start documenting key architecture views that improved communication and enabled analysis and evaluation. Topics covered include how architecture concepts were introduced to these scientists and system engineers; how the group applied the principles to create documentation artifacts for the SKA system; and what worked well and what might be done differently next time.

This talk is aimed at architects who must bring a team up to speed quickly, overcome initial friction in adopting architecture practices, and demonstrate value quickly.