Traceability-preserving Evidence Capture for Requirements Domain Modeling (TRECRE):
Unified View and Access to the Problem Frame Artifacts

Project Team Members:
Dr. Seok-Won Lee
Dr. Heather Richter (Human Computer Interaction research group) 
Lei Liu (PhD), Robin Gandhi (PhD)
Period: Fall 2005 - present 

Project Description:

There is a common recognition of non-trivial Requirements Engineering (RE) problems for software-intensive systems, which are understood as inherently complex clusters of closely interdependent systems of systems operational in diverse socio-technical environments. A key problem area lies in the lack of systematic processes and techniques that address the identification of diverse problem frame artifacts and the traceability between them in the early RE stage. Throughout the RE lifecycle as the problem frame artifacts pass through various stages and are exchanged among the involved stakeholders, they undergo multiple transformations and evolve into artifacts with various complementary semantics at different levels of abstractions. Such ontological drift during early RE stage is an inevitable problem that often results in ill-structured, meaningless, and missing RE process artifacts, which eventually makes it hard to understand, predict and control critical system emergent behaviors, such as with security and privacy concerns. Therefore, to facilitate the later RE stages such as analysis and negotiations, implementation of effective and efficient traceability between various evolutions of the original problem frame artifacts throughout the RE lifecycle is necessary. Such traceability requires ability to describe and follow the lifecycle of a requirement, in both backwards and forwards direction (i.e. pre-traceability and post-traceability, respectively).

Although, the issue of post-traceability has been significantly addressed in research literature, little is known about pre-traceability and its importance. Consequently, most real-world problems attributed to poor requirements traceability involve lack of (or inadequate) pre-traceability and its seamless integration to post-traceability without loss of original semantics. To address these issues, through the proposed framework we seek to investigate systematic ways of preserving early problem frame artifacts, their interdependencies, and their evolution throughout the RE lifecycle for supporting adequate pre-traceability & post-traceability. Such traceability facilitates a unified view and access to the problem frame artifacts dispersed across various RE stages and involved stakeholders.

The problem domain of privacy requirements is of particular interest to us as Privacy is recognized as one of the most obscure emergent system behavior attribute, which is affected by diverse contexts within socio-technical environments. System behavior pertaining to Privacy is often competing in nature with other functions and constraints of the overall system. Through the TRECRE framework, we thrive to achieve traceability between the problem frame artifacts that reveals the nexus of causal chains between various domain concepts and their proximity to privacy requirements. 

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