Linguistic Instruments in Requirements Engineering


Burg, J.F.M.

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The book discusses a new approach to requirements engineering. The goal of the method described is to facilitate the requirements engineering process and to improve the quality of its results. The focus of the book is on how linguistic instruments can be used profitably in this process, in order to reach this goal.
The book gives a rather complete overview of the current status of requirements engineering, including (object-oriented) software analysis, and of applications of natural language to information systems in general. The improvements to the requirements engineering process include a better understanding of the problem and its domain, expressed by abstract models upon the contents of which the users (i.e. the 'owners' of the problem) have agreed. The process of collecting, specifying, verifying and validating the contents of the models is elaborated extensively. The linguistic meaning and definition of the words and concepts, that are selected from the Universe of Discourse description by a natural language- and scenario-based analysis approach, provides a semantically correct base for both the requirements specification and requirements validation. Some well-known problems with natural language texts, like ambiguity and incompleteness, are avoided by this semantic approach. The word meanings are retrieved from a lexicon that is interactively consulted during the requirements engineering process. The formal language that has been introduced as the underlying representation formalism for the lexicon, the models, as well as the original natural language sentences gives possibilities for verification activities, because of its logic foundation. Two models are introduced that are validated by the users by checking natural language sentences that are equivalent to the models' contents, and by evaluating a prototype that simulates the modeled behaviour of the system.
Summarizing, the book introduces a requirements engineering method which makes heavily use of linguistic instruments. The method is described from several viewpoints, which includes its philosophy (the way of thinking), its techniques (the way of modeling), its use (the way of working) and a sketch of its supporting environment, (the way of supporting).