Incremental Construction and Reuse of Requirements Specifications


ICARUS - 2537

Keywords requirements engineering, software development, process modelling, formal methods


Start Date: 01-JAN-89 / Duration: 60 months

[ contact / participants ]


Objectives and Approach

Requirements Engineering (RE) is the activity of investigating the customer's needs in the context of a software development project. The specification of requirements, which describes functional and non-functional properties of the system and of its environment, can be distinguished from the specification of the design, which describes the system alone for the benefit of software engineers.

The ICARUS project is concerned with the study of formal methods for building requirements specifications. Three levels of analysis have been identified in the study of such methods: the specification product (the description of the desired system in its environment); the specification process (the set of activities by which the specification is produced); and the specification rationale (the set of reasons that have led to the choice of a particular process).

Progress and Results

The project has studied each of these three levels, especially the first two. A wide-spectrum requirements engineering language has been defined and coupled with a process description mechanism. The requirements engineering language is a formal specification language making it possible to express requirements in a natural operational and/or declarative style, to structure large requirements document and to apply consistency and completeness checks on possibly incomplete specifications. The process description technique is based on a concept of workplan describing the planning and the organisation of the tasks already done and/or to be achieved. A prototype environment has been developed to actively support their use. This environment is based on a process driven RE assistant integrating active analyst guidance, consistency and completeness checking, and specification visualisation. A qualitative assessment of the formal concepts and tools developed has been achieved by performing case studies on selected families of real-world applications.

Exploitation

The correct specification of requirements has a great potential for exploitation, as it is often regarded as the most important step necessary to increase productivity and quality. To further facilitate the exploitation of the ICARUS results, an industrial dialect of the wide-spectrum formal language has been defined. This language is an object-oriented, partly graphical, formal language, allowing the introduction of informal parts and the precise description of real-time performances requirements as well as the definition of the different contractual responsibilities of agents (humans, hardware, or software) interacting together in a system. It has been used in actual industrial developments, and is supported by a complete tool set integrated in a commercial software engineering environment.


CONTACT POINT

Dr Pierre Wodon
SEMA GROUP
Place du Champs de Mars 5
B - 1050 Bruxelles
tel: + 32/ 2-508-5418
fax: + 32/ 2-512-1499
email: wodon@sema.be

Participants

SEMA GROUP - B - C
DECISION SYSTEMS LTD - IRL - P
ALCATEL ALSTHOM RECHERCHE - F - P
FACULTES UNIVERSITAIRES
NOTRE-DAME DE LA PAIX - B - P
UNIVERSIDAD POLITECNICA DE
CATALUÑA - E - P
SEMA METRA GROUP SA - F - P
INRIA - F - P
UNIVERSITE CATHOLIQUE DE LOUVAIN - B - S


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ICARUS - 2537, December 1993


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html version of synopsis by Nick Cook