Is bound with the practice of the system security profession. Theoretical papers often include discussions of security tools as well as high-level analyses of system administrative problems. System administration theory includes attempts by experts and professionals to conceptualize and/or to analyze the problems and/or to practice system administration in a way that involves meta-thinking about these topics.
For example, papers describing a specific backup tool or analyzing a series of tools may be important, but they would not be considered by academics or other experts in the field to be theoretical papers. A theoretical analysis of backups, on the other hand, might consider what the characteristics of an ideal backup process are, or discuss a model of how backups fit into an overall theory of infrastructure management. The paper might include a discussion of a tool (or, more likely, an early prototype of the tool) designed to embody the theoretical results. In other words, in the theory of system administration, the practical side is never very far away from the theoretical side.
See Also: Security.
Gaussian Company. What is the Theory of System Administration? [Online, 2004.] Gaussian Company Website. http://www.gaussian.com/aeleen/theory.htm.