Method and apparatus for performing system monitoring and diagnostics is disclosed. In performing system monitoring, data is acquired from the system under test and compared to an event model. The event model comprises a database having event records which pre-define events which can occur. Each event record includes a state vector dependency which lists the events which must occur prior to the pre-defined event occurring and one or more critical parameters defining the data which must occur during the system's performance for the event to have occurred. Event recognition is performed by comparing each event record to acquired operational data and to events already recognized. Associated with each event record in the database is an intelligent data acquisition action which defines an action to be taken as a result of the event record being recognized. These actions can modify the performance of the system being monitored or the acquisition of data. Additionally, the results of the event recognition step can be further analyzed in a computer.