A Cross-Domain Systematic Mapping Study on Software Engineering for Digital Twins
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Digital Twins are currently investigated as the technological backbone for providing an enhanced understanding and management of existing systems as well as for designing new systems in various domains, e.g., ranging from single manufacturing components such as sensors to large-scale systems such as smart cities. Given the diverse application domains of Digital Twins, it is not surprising that the characterization of the term Digital Twin, as well as the needs for developing and operating Digital Twins are multi-faceted. Providing a better understanding what the commonalities and differences of Digital Twins in different contexts are, may allow to build reusable support for developing, running, and managing Digital Twins by providing dedicated concepts, techniques, and tool support. In this paper, we aim to uncover the nature of Digital Twins based on a systematic mapping study which is not limited to a particular application domain or technological space. We systematically retrieved a set of 1471 unique publications of which 356 were selected for further investigation. In particular, we analyzed the types of research and contributions made for Digital Twins, the expected properties Digital Twins have to fulfill, how Digital Twins are realized and operated, as well as how Digital Twins are finally evaluated. Based on this analysis, we also contribute a novel feature model for Digital Twins from a software engineering perspective as well as several observations to further guide future software engineering research in this area.