Automated Software Engineering

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 219–252 | Cite as

Assisting requirements analysts to find latent concerns with REAssistant

  • Alejandro Rago
  • Claudia Marcos
  • J. Andres Diaz-Pace


Textual requirements are very common in software projects. However, this format of requirements often keeps relevant concerns (e.g., performance, synchronization, data access, etc.) from the analyst’s view because their semantics are implicit in the text. Thus, analysts must carefully review requirements documents in order to identify key concerns and their effects. Concern mining tools based on NLP techniques can help in this activity. Nonetheless, existing tools cannot always detect all the crosscutting effects of a given concern on different requirements sections, as this detection requires a semantic analysis of the text. In this work, we describe an automated tool called REAssistant that supports the extraction of semantic information from textual use cases in order to reveal latent crosscutting concerns. To enable the analysis of use cases, we apply a tandem of advanced NLP techniques (e.g, dependency parsing, semantic role labeling, and domain actions) built on the UIMA framework, which generates different annotations for the use cases. Then, REAssistant allows analysts to query these annotations via concern-specific rules in order to identify all the effects of a given concern. The REAssistant tool has been evaluated with several case-studies, showing good results when compared to a manual identification of concerns and a third-party tool. In particular, the tool achieved a remarkable recall regarding the detection of crosscutting concern effects.


Concern mining User assistance Tool support Semantic analysis Natural language processing Use case specifications 



This work was partially supported by ANPCyT (Argentina) through PICT Project 2010 No. 2247. The authors are grateful to all the participants of the case-studies. The authors also thank the anonymous reviewers for their feedback that helped to improve the quality of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ISISTAN Research InstituteUNICEN UniversityTandilArgentina
  2. 2.CONICETBuenos AiresArgentina
  3. 3.CICBuenos AiresArgentina

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