Towards a More Fundamental Explanation of Constraints in Feature Models: A Requirement-Oriented Approach

  • Wei Zhang
  • Haiyan Zhao
  • Zhi Jin
  • Hong Mei
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6727)


One basic construct in feature models (FMs) is the constraints between features, which play the role of ensuring the consistency and completeness of any configuration of a FM. However, most of the existing research about FMs views constraints between features as a kind of black-box entities, and cares little about more fundamental problems relating to them, such as what are the origins of them, and whether there is an insight explanation for their existence. In this paper, we try to provide a more fundamental explanation of constraints between features. The basic idea is that constraints among features are not imposed by external, but rooted in the nature of features – that is, a feature is a kind of container for requirements, and the constraints between features naturally inherit from the constraints between requirements. Following this idea, we identify two general situations that usually relate different requirements, and introduce a set of constraint-patterns based on the different compositions of the two general situations. The value of this research is that it provides a requirement-oriented approach to reflecting our current understanding of constraints in FMs, and also provides us with more theory support to identify, specify and explain constraints between features.


Feature Model Constraint Semantic 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Buhne, S., Lauenroth, K., Pohl, K.: Modelling Requirements Variability across Product Lines. In: 13th IEEE International Conference on Requirements Engineering (RE 2005), pp. 41–52. IEEE Computer Society, Los Alamitos (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Carlshamre, P., Sandahl, K., Lindvall, M., Regnell, B., Nattoch Dag, J.: An Industrial Survey of Requirements Interdependencies in Software Product Release Planning. In: 5th IEEE International Symposium on Requirements Engineering (RE 2001), pp. 84–91. IEEE Computer Society, Los Alamitos (2001)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Chastek, G., Donohoe, P., Kang, K.C., Thiel, S.: Product Line Analysis: A Practical Introduction. SEI-2001-TR-001, Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University (2001)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dahlstedt, A.G., Persson, A.: Requirements Interdependencies - Moulding the State of Research into a Research Agenda. In: 9th International Workshop on Requirements Engineering - Foundation for Software Quality (REFSQ 2003), Klagenfurt/Velden, Austria, June 16-17, pp. 55–64 (2003)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dahlstedt, A.G., Persson, A.: Requirements Interdependencies: State of the Art and Future Challenges. In: Engineering and Managing Software Requirements, pp. 95–116. Springer, Heidelberg (2006)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Davis, A.M.: The Art of Requirements Triage. IEEE Computer 36(3), 42–49 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ferber, S., Haag, J., Savolainen, J.: Feature Interaction and Dependencies: Modeling Features for Reengineering a Legacy Product Line. In: Chastek, G.J. (ed.) SPLC 2002. LNCS, vol. 2379, pp. 235–256. Springer, Heidelberg (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Fife, L.D.: Feature Interaction-How It Works in Telecommunication Software. IEEE Potentials 15(4), 35–37 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Griss, M.L., Favaro, J., d’Alessandro, M.: Integrating Feature Modeling with the RSEB. In: 5th International Conference on Software Reuse, pp. 76–85. IEEE Computer Society, Los Alamitos (1998)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Gunter, C.A., Gunter, E.L., Jackson, M., Zave, P.: A Reference Model for Requirements and Specifications. IEEE Software 17(3), 37–43 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Jackson, M.: Software Requirements and Specifications: A Lexicon of Practice, Principles and Prejudices. Addison-Wesley, Reading (1995)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Jackson, M.: Problem Frames: Analyzing and Structuring Software Development Problems. Addison-Wesley, Reading (2001)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kang, K.C., Cohen, S.G., Hess, J.A., Novak, W.E., Peterson, A.S.: Feature-Oriented Domain Analysis Feasibility Study. Technical Reports, SEI-90-TR-21, Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University (1990)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Mehta, A., Heineman, G.T.: Evolving Legacy System Features into Fine-Grained Components. In: 24th International Conference on Software Engineering, Florida, pp. 417–427 (May 2002)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Moisiadis, F.: The Fundamentals of Prioritising Requirements. In: Systems Engineering/Test and Evaluation Conference, SETE 2002 (2002)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Parnas, D.L., Madey, J.: Functional Documents for Computer Systems. Science of Computer Programming 25(1), 41–61 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Pohl, K.: Process-Centered Requirements Engineering. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Reading (1996)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Pohl, K., Böckle, G., van der Linden, F.J.: Software Product Line Engineering: Foundations, Principles and Techniques. Springer, Heidelberg (2005)CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Sommerville, I.: Software Engineering. Addison-Wesley, Reading (2000)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Turner, C.R., Fuggetta, A., Lavazza, L., Wolf, A.L.: A Conceptual Basis for Feature Engineering. Journal of Systems and Software 49(1), 3–15 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Wiegers, K.E.: Software Requirements. Microsoft Press, Redmond (1999)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Zhang, W., Mei, H., Zhao, H.: A Feature-Oriented Approach to Modeling Requirements Dependencies. In: 13th IEEE International Conference on Requirements Engineering (RE 2005), pp. 273–282. IEEE Computer Society, Los Alamitos (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Zhang, W., Mei, H., Zhao, H., Yang, J.: Transformation from CIM to PIM: A Feature-Oriented Component-Based Approach. In: Briand, L.C., Williams, C. (eds.) MoDELS 2005. LNCS, vol. 3713, pp. 248–263. Springer, Heidelberg (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wei Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Haiyan Zhao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhi Jin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hong Mei
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of High Confidence Software Technology(Peking University), Ministry of EducationChina
  2. 2.Institute of Software, School of EECSPeking UniversityBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations