Development of an ontology that enables to formally describe requirements

Requirements are critical components in the industry, describing qualities that a product or a service needs to have. Most requirements are only available as natural language text embedded in a document. Working with textual requirements is getting increasingly difficult due to the growing number (sometimes: millions) of requirements, and having the requirements available as structured data would be beneficial for many tasks.

The Reified Requirements Ontology has been designed and enables to formally describe requirements in terms of a requirement's scope, its condition, and its demand. For example, consider the following textual requirement:

"Shell boilers with a shell diameter of 1400 mm or greater shall be designed to permit entry of a person and shall be provided with a manhole for this purpose." Here, the scope is "shell boiler", the condition is "shell diameter of 1400 mm" and the demand is "provided with a manhole that permits entry of a person".

This ontology is a first step towards making requirements machine understandable. However, it is rather course grained. We believe that a more fine-frained model and a corpus of requirements manually annotated with this fine-grained model will help to train systems that automatically extract formal requirements from textual documents. The current ontology is course-grained in the sense that, for example, the scope can be an artifact or a process or the result of a process etc. If one does not distinguish between these types of scopes, then the set of linguistic patterns that describe scopes is more heterogeneous as it could be with a fine-grained model. This heterogeneity will make it more difficult to detect scopes in texts. Therefore, the goal of this thesis is to analyze a set of real-world requirements to build a deeper understanding of the domain and to extend the Reified Requirements Ontology.

For a definition of the term ontology, please consult the article by Tom Gruber.
For an introduction to ontology engineering, please have a look at Part II - Developing Good Ontologies in the book by Maria Keet.

Ideally, the candidate studies with the specialization Database Integration and Semantic Web. Especially recommended is the course IN4060 – Semantic Technologies.

 

Supervision

The thesis will be jointly supervised by Dr. Basil Ell and Ole Magnus Holter.

Contact

If you are interested in this project please send an email to basile [at] ifi.uio.no and we can arrange a chat.

Publisert 15. sep. 2020 19:26 - Sist endret 15. sep. 2020 20:45

Omfang (studiepoeng)

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