There is an increasing realization of the need for fundamental research in the science of systems engineering. The International Council on Systems Engineering vision document calls for theoretical foundations for systems architecting, systems design and systems understanding. During a recent NSF workshop, a number of knowledge areas ranging from mathematics, information sciences, physical sciences, systems science to human and social sciences were identified as possible sources from which the scientific foundation of systems engineering can be enhanced. However, the primary challenge facing the community lies in orchestrating the breadth and diversity of the many knowledge areas into a cohesive foundation. This paper briefly surveys systems science-related efforts across multiple application domains. The specific objectives in this paper are to present a classification of initiatives for developing foundations for systems engineering, and to discuss the challenges, and potential strategies forward, associated with systems science research. The classification is discussed using two case examples — the Internet and the air transportation system. Through these examples, some of the key research challenges and strategies are exemplified.

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