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Requirements-Aware Systems: A Research Agenda for RE for Self-adaptive Systems

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsPaper

Published

Publication date2010
Host publicationProceedings of the 18th IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference (RE '10)
Place of publicationWashington, DC, USA
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
Pages95-103
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)978-1-4244-8022-7
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Requirements are sensitive to the context in which the system-to-be must operate. Where such context is well understood and is static or evolves slowly, existing RE techniques can be made to work well. Increasingly, however, development projects are being challenged to build systems to operate in contexts that are volatile over short periods in ways that are imperfectly understood. Such systems need to be able to adapt to new environmental contexts dynamically, but the contextual uncertainty that demands this self-adaptive ability makes it hard to formulate, validate and manage their requirements. Different contexts may demand different requirements trade-offs. Unanticipated contexts may even lead to entirely new requirements. To help counter this uncertainty, we argue that requirements for self-adaptive systems should be run-time entities that can be reasoned over in order to understand the extent to which they are being satisfied and to support adaptation decisions that can take advantage of the systems' self-adaptive machinery. We take our inspiration from the fact that explicit, abstract representations of software architectures used to be considered design-time-only entities but computational reflection showed that architectural concerns could be represented at run-time too, helping systems to dynamically reconfigure themselves according to changing context. We propose to use analogous mechanisms to achieve requirements reflection. In this paper we discuss the ideas that support requirements reflection as a means to articulate some of the outstanding research challenges.