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Formalizing Informal Requirements

Lead Personnel: Hasan Kitapci

Objectives: Develop alternative methods for bridging the gap between informal inputs and a requirements specification.

"We believe the following represent major challenges for Requirements Engineering (RE) in the years ahead: […] 2. Bridging the gap between requirements elicitation approaches based on contextual enquiry and more formal specification and analysis techniques." (B. Nuseibeh, S. Easterbrook)

Approach: Discuss the EasyWinWin negotiation method and analyze different bridging approaches for formalizing informal requirements inputs into more formal representations. Determine an appropriate degree of formality to serve as the initial target for methods of strengthening informal requirement inputs. Investigate how the EasyWinWin negotiation process itself supports the refinement and formalization of informal, vague ideas into more precise artifacts and analyzed quantity and quality characteristics of negotiation results. Identify requirements negotiation post-processing techniques to specify more precise and realistic requirements from informal inputs. Develop alternative methods for formalizing informal requirements inputs using the following gap-bridging approaches:

1. Human-Initiated Template: System analyst manually identifies the requirements from the agreed-upon Win Conditions and fills the requirements template.
2. Computer-Initiated Template: A computer program operates on the EasyWinWin data to produce draft templates.
3. Natural Language Processing (NLP): NLP techniques and tools can be used to extract template-relevant meaning from the EasyWinWin win conditions.
4. Keyword Analysis: A keyword analyzer produces summary information to facilitate specification development.
5. Formal Method Experts: experts refine the appropriate template elements into formal specifications.
6. Inspections: External stakeholders and experts inspect the EasyWinWin statements and post-process them into more precise and appropriate specifications.


  1. Kitapci, H., Boehm, B. W., Grunbacher, P., Halling, M., Biffl, S., "Formalizing Informal Stakeholder Requirements Inputs", Proceedings INCOSE 2003 conference, Washington DC. [Best Paper Award in System Engineering Management Category]

Future Plans:
Focus on identifying and optimizing hybrid methods of gap-bridging approaches.

Use linguistic information and keyword analysis for better requirements negotiation results and requirements specification.