Loughborough University
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Requirements specification using concrete scenarios

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posted on 2010-09-22, 13:54 authored by Oliver T.S. Au
The precision of formal specifications allows us to prove program correctness. Even if formal methods are not used throughout the software project, formalisation improves our understanding of the problem. Formal specifications are amenable to automated analysis and consistency checking. However using them is challenging. Customers do not understand formal notations. Specifiers have difficulty tackling large problems. Once systems are built, formal specifications quickly become outdated during software maintenance. A method of developing formal specifications using concrete scenarios is proposed to tackle the disadvantages just mentioned. A concrete scenario describes system behaviour with successive steps. The pre- and post-states of scenario steps are expressed with actual data rather than variables. Concrete scenarios are expressed in a natural language or formal notation. They increase customer involvement in the creation of formal specifications. Scenarios may be ranked by priorities allowing specifiers to focus on a small part of the system. Formal specifications are constructed incrementally. New requirements are also captured in concrete scenarios which guide the modification of formal specifications. On one hand, concrete scenarios assist the creation and maintenance of formal specifications. On the other hand, they facilitate program correctness proofs without using conventional formal specifications. This is achieved by adding implementation details to customer scenarios. The resulting developer scenarios, encapsulating decisions of data structures and algorithms, are generalised to operation schemas. With the implementation details, the schemas written in formal notations are programs rather than specifications.



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  • Computer Science

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A Doctoral Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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  • en