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There is no reason to Abstract or Elaborate anything unless the abstracted or elaborated information is to be used for something. Abstraction is a process used to remove or suppress information that is less relevant to the user of the information at the abstracted level. Elaboration is a process used to create or add information that is more relevant to the user of the information at the elaborated level.

Abstraction and Elaboration, therefore, are mechanisms which allows the same fundamental thing to be viewed by different stakeholders with potentially very different viewpoints and there is no theoretical limit to how many times information can be abstracted or elaborated. Whether you view something as being an abstraction or an elaboration is defined by the direction you are looking. If you are looking up to a more abstract level, the information is said to be an elaboration of the information above. If you are looking down to a more elaborated level, the information is said to be an abstraction of the information below.

POET uses, and advocates the use of the four primitives of Abstraction and Elaboration:

¨      Subtraction/Addition - These are the simplest types of Abstraction and Elaboration.

¨      Moving up, we abstract things by removing information. We subtract from them to make smaller things.

¨      Moving down, we elaborate things by adding information. We add to them to make bigger things.

¨      Composition/Decomposition - The second most complex types of Abstraction and Elaboration.

¨      Moving up, we abstract things by grouping them together into larger things. We Compose them into larger parts.

¨      Moving down, we elaborate things by breaking them apart into smaller things. We Decompose them into smaller parts.

¨      Generalisation/Specialisation - The third most complex types of Abstraction and Elaboration.

¨      Moving up, we abstract things by creating more generic things. We Generalise them into more general things.

¨      Moving down, we elaborate things by creating more specific things. We Specialise them into more specific things.

¨      Idealisation/Realisation - The most complex, and most important, of all types of Abstraction and Elaboration

¨      Moving up, abstracts things by transforming them into more idealised things. Akin to Analysis and Architecture.

¨      Moving down, we elaborate things by transformation them into more real things. Akin to Design and Engineering.

 

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Questions to ponder...

Do all people involved in Transformation understand the differences between these types of abstraction?

Do all people involved in Transformation know how to “move up” and “move down” effectively?

If not, what impact is that likely to have?










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