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.
The thesis will be jointly supervised by Dr. Basil Ell and Ole Magnus Holter.
If you are interested in this project please send an email to basile [at] ifi.uio.no and we can arrange a chat.