Observational Models of Requirements Evolution

Massimo Felici


Requirements Evolution is one of the main issues that affect development activities as well as system features (e.g., system dependability). Although researchers and practitioners recognise the importance of requirements evolution, research results and experience are still patchy. This points out a lack of methodologies that address requirements evolution. This thesis investigates the current understanding of requirements evolution and explores new directions in requirements evolution research. The empirical analysis of industrial case studies highlights software requirements evolution as an important issue. Unfortunately, traditional requirements engineering methodologies provide limited support to capture requirements evolution. Heterogeneous engineering provides a comprehensive account of system requirements. Heterogeneous engineering stresses a holistic viewpoint that allows us to understand the underlying mechanisms of evolution of socio-technical systems. Requirements, as mappings between socio-technical solutions and problems, represent an account of the history of socio-technical issues arising and being solved within industrial settings. The formal extension of a heterogeneous account of requirements provides a framework to model and capture requirements evolution. The application of the proposed framework provides further evidence that it is possible to capture and model evolutionary information about requirements. The discussion of scenarios of use stresses practical necessities for methodologies addressing requirements evolution. Finally, the identification of a broad spectrum of evolutions in socio-technical systems points out strong contingencies between system evolution and dependability. This thesis argues that the better our understanding of socio-technical evolution, the better system dependability. In summary, this thesis is concerned with software requirements evolution in industrial settings. This thesis develops methodologies to empirically investigate and model requirements evolution, hence Observational Models of Requirements Evolution. The results provide new insights in requirements engineering and identify the foundations for Requirements Evolution Engineering. This thesis addresses the problem of empirically understanding and modelling requirements evolution.

This is a 225-page thesis.

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