Computer-Aided Formalization of Requirements Based on Patterns

Shaoying LIU

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E97-D    No.2    pp.198-212
Publication Date: 2014/02/01
Online ISSN: 1745-1361
DOI: 10.1587/transinf.E97.D.198
Print ISSN: 0916-8532
Type of Manuscript: PAPER
Category: Software System
formal specification,  pattern system,  HFSM,  computer-aided,  

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Formalizing requirements in formal specifications is an effective way to deepen the understanding of the envisioned system and reduce ambiguities in the original requirements. However, it requires mathematical sophistication and considerable experience in using formal notations, which remains a challenge to many practitioners. To handle this challenge, this paper describes a pattern-based approach to facilitate the formalization of requirements. In this approach, a pattern system is pre-defined to guide requirements formalization where each pattern provides a specific solution for formalizing one kind of function into a formal expression. All of the patterns are classified and organized into a hierarchical structure according to the functions they can be used to formalize. The distinct characteristic of our approach is that all of the patterns are stored on computer as knowledge for creating effective guidance to facilitate the developer in requirements formalization; they are “understood” only by the computer but transparent to the developer. We also describe a prototype tool that supports the approach. It adopts Hierarchical Finite State Machine (HFSM) to represent the pattern knowledge and implements an algorithm for applying it to assist requirements formalization. Two experiments on the tool are presented to demonstrate the effectiveness of the approach.

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