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Requirements Engineering

This area covers the design of software-based infrastructure issued in response to a need expressed by customers in an existing organization. Typically, the specification of an infrastructure does not only include the description of the role played by the software component but should encompass the description of the other agents acting in the system. For example, in classical business information system, those agents are humans and emphasis is put on data, but there are other kinds of infrastructure (like those developed for Computer Integrated Manufacturing) where agents can be devices or hardware components. In any case, these infrastructures correspond to composite systems because they meet some goals in an organization.

In this area, research aims at covering different facets of IS and particularly the different types of cooperation and communications taking place between agents:

There is also research on identifying ontological groupings of agents according to the roles they play with respect to the planned information system. For example, in [MBJK90], a four-worlds model is proposed which groups agents into those described by the system (subject world), those constituting the system (system world), those using the system (usage world), and those developing the system (development world). These worlds imply certain typical goals or quality factors which have to be investigated [Jar93]. They also lead to the need for sharing ideas, tasks, and objects in a consistent manner [JJS87], [HJR91], [JMR92]. Finally, requirements for many systems can be derived from an analysis of conversations among the agents involved [WF86].

Questions to be investigated include: the modeling of human and computerized agents in integrated development environments as well as in the target systems; the need and availability of mutually understandable shared domain knowledge; the resolution of multiple, possibly overlapping and conflicting views in requirements engineering [FKG90]; integrated support for ongoing negotiations [BJ86], [JJS87]; and the use of requirements information in concurrent engineering which addresses multiple phases of development simultaneously. Techniques from DAI (e.g., constraint propagation) as well as organizational modeling [Yu93] (e.g., conversation-based modeling) have to be closer integrated than they are today, to provide the foundations for these crucial practical tasks.

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Pierre-Yves Schobbens
Fri Nov 25 10:58:38 WET 1994