Towards an Anatomy of Software Requirements
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Requirements engineering is crucial to software development but lacks a precise definition of its fundamental concepts. Even the basic definitions in the literature and in industry standards are often vague and verbose. To remedy this situation and provide a solid basis for discussions of requirements, this work provides precise definitions of the fundamental requirements concepts and two systematic classifications: a taxonomy of requirement elements (such as components, goals, constraints...); and a taxonomy of possible relations between these elements (such as “extends”, “excepts”, “belongs” ...). The discussion evaluates the taxonomies on published requirements documents; readers can test the concepts in two online quizzes. The intended result of this work is to spur new advances in the study and practice of software requirements by clarifying the fundamental concepts.
We are grateful to Dr. Bettina Bair from Ohio State University for writing the original (2006) version of the course project document  and providing us with a more recent version.
Attendees of talks given on this work by some of the authors provided particularly relevant feedback: at Politecnico di Milano (Meyer, March 2019), Elisabetta Di Nitto, Carlo Ghezzi, Dino Mandrioli and Maurizio Patriarca; at the University of Toulouse (Meyer, March 2019), Mamoun Filali Amine, whose comments led to a revision of the classification of constraints; at Innopolis University (Meyer, March 2019); at the GDR meeting, Génie de la Programmation et du Logiciel, also in Toulouse (Bruel, June 2019).
We are further indebted to Joëlle Guion for important comments on the concerns of practicing requirements engineers.
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