SG4: Software Development Process


The objective of SG4 is the application of agent concepts in software development. In particular we want to apply techniques developed by the "theory" subgroups: revision [SG1], action theory [SG2], and organisation theory [SG3]. We distinguish two distinct ways in which agent concepts occur in software development.

  1. Agents as units of software artifacts, that is, agents as a means of structuring the artifacts produced by specification and programming.
  2. Agents in the software development process: participants and roles whose actions produce software artifacts.

The first category may be thought of as extending the existing encapsulation concepts used in software development. Specific topics to be worked on include reuse of specifications and specification refinement and transformation. We will apply the techniques of SG1 to study defaults and norms in software specifications, mutable specifications, and specification revision. We will apply SG2 techniques to structuring action-based systems around agents. This work has implications for research in object orientation.

Work in second category (agents in the software process) will include an analysis of the extent to which the software development process is formalizable. We will work on identifying different types of actions needed in process modelling (normative actions, admissible actions, causation between actions etc.), with the aim of integrating support for co-operation with formal process description. We will use SG1 work in revision and normative actions in this formalization. In particular we will focus on fine-grain process modelling, i.e. on modelling software development at a finer grain than the invocation and interworking of existing software tools. This includes the study of tactics, strategies and formal transformation of specifications used during the development of a requirement specification document. SG3 techniques will be relevant here.



SG4 will hold a yearly meeting. In line with other ModelAge SG first meetings, the first one will have a tutorial nature. Case studies will be explored, and further specific goals for SG4 will be established. Presentations at the WS will be discussed.