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EPSRC Reference: EP/C007719/1
Title: Relating problem and solution structures in feature-based software
Principal Investigator: Nuseibeh, Professor B
Other Investigators:
Rapanotti, Dr L Jackson, Professor MA Laney, Dr R
Hall, Dr JG
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr CB Haley
Project Partners:
Altran UK Ltd Atlantic Systems Guild Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
Department: Computing
Organisation: Open University
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 01 September 2005 Ends: 28 February 2009 Value (£): 192,342
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Software Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
A clear understanding of the relationships between requirements and architecture structures is important for several reasons. First, because in any system there is a need for architectural stability in the face of changing requirements. Requirements inevitably change over time because of a changing system environment and user needs, but a stable architectural foundation is essential for system dependability. Second, because a reliable development method must be able to proceed from initial requirements to developed software in a systematic way: at the end of the development process it must be clearly demonstrable that the implementation satisfies the requirements. Third, because many systems are feature-based: they either evolve by adding commercially significant increments of function, or belong to product families whose members share a common functional base and differ in the additional features they offer.For feature-based systems, it is particularly important to maintain a coherent mapping between user features and software modules. Adding a new feature often 'breaks the design': that is, it undermines, in ways that are understood neither well enough nor early enough, the assumptions implicit in the software structure that implements existing features. Moreover, features also interact at the requirements level, making it difficult to understand what behaviour should be expected when different features are combined.We propose to investigate the initial development and subsequent maintenance of the relationship between software architectures and the structures of functional requirements that they support. Essentially, our goal is to understand how user functions, or features, can be systematically mapped to software modules, and vice versa, and to make that mapping a practical intellectual tool in software development and maintenance, both in forward and in reverse engineering.
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