[Context and motivation] Ambiguity has long been pictured as one of the worst enemies of the specifier, especially with reference to ambiguity in natural language (NL) requirements specifications. [Question/problem] In this paper, we investigate the nature of ambiguity, and [Principal ideas/result] advocate that the simplistic view of ambiguity as merely a “defect” that has to be avoided at all costs does not do justice to the complexity of this phenomenon. We also provide a finer classification of several types of ambiguities, distinguishing their different causes and effects in the development process. [Contribution] This better understanding can help in the analysis of practical experiences and in the design of more effective methods to detect, mark and handle ambiguity.


Ambiguity natural language abstraction absence 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vincenzo Gervasi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Didar Zowghi
    • 2
  1. 1.Dipartimento di InformaticaUniversità di PisaItaly
  2. 2.Faculty of Eng. and Inf. TechnologyUniversity of TechnologySydneyAustralia

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