Are Refinement and Decomposition Equivalent?
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Are Refinement and Decomposition Equivalent?

In requirements modeling languages, refinement and decomposition show up as two relationships over requirements. Both terms are also, somewhat confusingly, used to refer to processes for changing the information in a requirements model. Although they have different origins, and appear in different modeling languages, they are actually not independent relationships. I will argue below that…

Requirements Lifecycle & the DevOps Loop
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Requirements Lifecycle & the DevOps Loop

It requires paraconsistent reasoning and involves cognitive dissonance to think at the same time about requirements in the way promoted in mainstream requirements engineering, and then use the DevOps loop (and the broader model), a method that has been demonstrated to work (and I’ve seen it applied in a team I was part of in…

Requirements Satisfaction ≠ Customer Satisfaction
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Requirements Satisfaction ≠ Customer Satisfaction

There is engineering quality of a product or service, which is fitness to the specification, and there is perceived quality, or subjective quality, which is proportional to the distance between expectations and experience of the person asked. What is the relationship between these, between specification, requirements, expectations, and experience? This is a longstanding question in…

Choice in Absence of Utility and Probability Estimates
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Choice in Absence of Utility and Probability Estimates

In expected utility models, utility quantifies preferences, probability quantifies uncertainty. Sounds simple, elegant, but tends to be expensive. What if options can be identified, but there is no information about preferences or uncertainty in a format that can be translated into, respectively, utility and probability? What is an alternative decision process, which is still structured…

Requirements Evolution, Change, and Update
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Requirements Evolution, Change, and Update

What could it mean that a “requirement evolves”? Is it the same to say that a requirement evolves and that it changes? How are requirements evolution and change related to updates of sets of requirements?  The term “evolution” has rigorous definitions in biology. A textbook one is as follows (it is carried over from [1],…

Requirements Satisfaction as Expected Utility Maximization
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Requirements Satisfaction as Expected Utility Maximization

What are the implications of seeing requirements satisfaction as a case of utility maximization? Expected Utility Theory is the mainstream framework (or, at least the one taught first) in economics for conceptualizing rational decision making. Can the problem of satisfying some given set of requirements be translated into that framework? What, if anything, is gained…

When Is a Requirement Accurate?
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When Is a Requirement Accurate?

What conditions should a requirement satisfy, to be considered accurate? It turns out that this is a very complicated question. Two easy, yet unsatisfying ways out are (i) to think the question is irrelevant, and (ii) to claim that the validation of a requirement answers that question (i.e., if a stakeholder A gave the requirement…

Approaches to Requirements Satisfaction
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Approaches to Requirements Satisfaction

Given a set of requirements to satisfy, and assuming they can be satisfied together, are we always aiming to find the solution that maximizes the level of satisfaction of all these requirements? Maximization of satisfaction, or more generally, finding an optimal solution to given requirements, is a common way of thinking about what we want…

Requirements as Decision Criteria
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Requirements as Decision Criteria

Assuming two or more alternative solutions are available, to make a decision means to pick only one of these, or, equivalently here, to commit to one and ignore others. What role do requirements play in such decision making situations?  In classical decision theory [1], the best solution is the one that yields the highest expected…

Specialization versus Transparency
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Specialization versus Transparency

In a firm, what is the relationship between transparency of information and specialization of work?  Increasing specialization means that individuals over time deepen a relatively narrow set of skills and knowledge required for these, in response to the opportunities and problems they are responsible for. There are organizational structures that evidently encourage specialization, such as…

Specialization Costs in Functional Organization
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Specialization Costs in Functional Organization

In a functional organizational structure, each team is responsible for a set of something called functions. An essential property of a functional team is homogeneity of knowledge within the team: people in it usually share similar educational background, similar expertise, similar career development paths. A clear benefit of functional organization is that it allows a…

Nurtured Choice
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Nurtured Choice

What can you do to influence someone’s decision, if you cannot give them advice? In short, a possible approach is to take actions that satisfy two conditions: Any communication that the action may result in, cannot be interpreted as advice by the decision maker. A simple case is when any information that the action leads…

Alternative Incentives for Positive Network Effects
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Alternative Incentives for Positive Network Effects

If a product/service should generate positive network effects, how do you make the value comparable for the 1st and the 1 billionth user? Accomplishing this means that you can offer more value to the early adopters, and if so, then the network of users should grow faster, or equivalently, adoption should be faster. “In economics,…

Limits of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAO)
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Limits of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAO)

The crypto glossary at Andreessen Horowitz [1] gives the following definition of a Decentralized Autonomous Organization, or DAO:  “Decentralized autonomous organizations” or DAOs represent exactly what they are called; they are: (i) decentralized so, the rules cannot be changed by a single individual or centralized party; (ii) autonomous, so they operate based on logic written…

The Firm as a Network of Teams
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The Firm as a Network of Teams

What determines the distribution of knowledge and information flow between teams in a firm? Why are some bigger than others? Why do some teams collaborate more with others? Many small choices made by different people, inside and outside a team, accumulate to hard-to-reverse distribution of expertise, decision authority, and resources, that is, into the set…

Economics of the Acceptability of an Argument
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Economics of the Acceptability of an Argument

An argumentation framework [1] is a graph of nodes called arguments, and edges called attacks. If arguments are propositions, and “p1 attacks p2” reads “if you believe p1 then you shouldn’t believe p2”, then an argumentation framework looks like something you can use to represent the relationship between arguments and counterarguments in, say, a debate….

Business Forecasts as Verifiable Explanations of Expected Value
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Business Forecasts as Verifiable Explanations of Expected Value

An OECD report [1] estimated that there were about 41,000 publicly traded companies in the world in 2019. Given the usual reporting requirements of listed companies, each maintains a forecast of future conditions that may matter to its financials. In other words, each of these companies has a narrative about a future, according to what…

Hybrid Definition Networks and Their Role in Innovation
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Hybrid Definition Networks and Their Role in Innovation

A Hybrid Definition Network includes definitions for two types of concepts: (i) so-called old concepts having their default definition, from a dictionary or other accepted (and stable) source, and (ii) new concepts, those that have a plastic definition, which is intended to change to reflect how these new ideas are refined through an innovation process….

Linguistic Causes of Distracting Disagreement
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Linguistic Causes of Distracting Disagreement

There is disagreement which leads to constructive revision of definitions (see Plastic Definitions and Define/Destroy method), i.e., the improvement of definitions during innovation, and then there is disagreement which is distracting, useless, wastes time, and takes focus and attention away from improvements. Distracting disagreement comes from ambiguity, synonymy, and vagueness, what I call linguistic causes…

How Definitions Embed Past Choices
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How Definitions Embed Past Choices

A definition is a record of past decisions. This is a simple idea that’s interesting to unpack. Let’s take the example of the term “Service” that was redefined in another text. There, I took the common definition of “Service” from WordNet, which was the following: Service: work done by one person or group that benefits…

Theories of Definition: Belnap
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Theories of Definition: Belnap

Belnap is less concerned than Kant with categories of definitions, than with the ”good” properties of definitions. For him, a definition tries to explain the meaning of a word or phrase. ”I consider [definitions] only in the sense of explanations of the meanings of words or other bits of language. (I use ’explanation’ as a…

Theories of Definition: Kant
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Theories of Definition: Kant

For Kant, to define is to identify all primitive properties of that which you are trying to define, whereby that set of properties allows you, me, others, to unambiguously distinguish the thing from others. It is important that all these properties in the set, i.e., properties which together make up the definition, are primitive. Primitive…

Plastic Definitions
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Plastic Definitions

The Define/Destroy method makes, destroys, rebuilds definitions. A definition is, in other words, the key thing that is made, changed, discarded when applying the method. These definitions are unstable by design, and this makes them very different from ones in glossaries of mature domains of knowledge. In Define/Destroy, a definition is temporary, whereas in, say,…

Define/Destroy a Business Services Marketplace
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Define/Destroy a Business Services Marketplace

This text goes into the details of a single Define/Destroy iteration, in a project I was part of in 2017. I show how the Define/Destroy iteration was done, including the detail of the glossary built in the Define part of the iteration, and the glossary remade as a result of the Destroy part of that first iteration.

Define/Destroy: A Paradox to Accelerate Innovation
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Define/Destroy: A Paradox to Accelerate Innovation

Innovation is iterative: start from an idea, find flaws, replace it with a better one, repeat. Each cycle destroys to rebuild. This is intentional constructive destruction; it isn’t Schumpeter’s creative destruction from systemic contradictions.  Invent, destroy, repeat. If ideas are willingly exposed to, and revised in response to constructive criticism, then the more iterations, the…

Building a Loop around a Requirement
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Building a Loop around a Requirement

In this text, I take a requirement, explain why it exists, identify variables that matter, hypothesize their relationships, and explain how to use this information when designing a solution to the requirement, and the mechanism for evaluating how well the solution satisfies the requirement. In other words, I take a requirement and build a Requirements…

Labeled Directed Graphs from Requirements Loops
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Labeled Directed Graphs from Requirements Loops

For any Requirements Loop, it is possible (and not difficult) to define directed labeled graphs that reflect, in a well defined format, specific properties of that loop. The graphs can be used to compute answers to some specific questions about the propositions and relationships between propositions in a Requirements Loop. In turn, we can make…

What Is Destructive in a Requirements Loop?
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What Is Destructive in a Requirements Loop?

Why is a Requirements Loop a loop, and why is it a destructive loop? Any Requirements Loop has three explanations: an explanation of requirements, of a solution to these requirements, and of how to show that the solution satisfies requirements. Simply put, if an explanation gives the mechanism generating some events of interest (as in…

Requirements Loops: Decomposing an Example
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Requirements Loops: Decomposing an Example

An exercise I used to do with students in my Decision Analysis & Requirements Engineering lecture was to ask them to identify a problem that they have at university, and to describe it. My goal was to have them work in that lecture on problems that affected them. One group of students, in the 2019-2020…

Requirements Loops: Examples
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Requirements Loops: Examples

Several examples of Requirements Loop concept instances (actual Requirements Loops) are given below. Each example is represented simply as text. No specific modeling language is used. This is because the Requirements Loop concept ignores the specifics one or of the language mix that may be best suited to represent the information which makes up an…

Requirements Loops: Definition & Purpose
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Requirements Loops: Definition & Purpose

A “Requirements Loop” is an evidence-supported explanation of  How observed events in an environment have led or are leading to the creation and persistence of those requirements, How to change the environment in order to satisfy the requirements in the future, and How to measure the change in the environment, in order to evaluate the…

Machine/AI as Inventor? Notes on Thaler v. USPTO
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Machine/AI as Inventor? Notes on Thaler v. USPTO

Can “an artificial intelligence machine be an ‘inventor’ under the Patent Act”? According to the Memorandum Opinion filed on September 2, 2021, in the case 1:20-cv-00903, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) requires that the inventor is one or more people [1]. An “AI machine” cannot be named an inventor on a patent that…

When Is a Design Problem a Sequence of Decision Problems?
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When Is a Design Problem a Sequence of Decision Problems?

Are decision problems and design problems related? Is one part of the other? Or is the relationship different? In a decision problem, there are, roughly speaking options and an objective, and the problem is to select the one option that best satisfies the objective. (There are other things in a decision problem, such as preferences…

When (if ever) Is a Claim Objective?
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When (if ever) Is a Claim Objective?

“Objective”, as in, for example, “what I’m saying is objective”, or “that statement is objective”, or “we need objective criteria when making these decisions”, is a complicated term. It takes a lot of effort to make sure it is understood as intended (or closely enough). It is therefore a costly word to use. Why is…

What Is Evidence?
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What Is Evidence?

There is no single definition of the term “evidence”, and trying to make one isn’t the purpose of this text. But there are ways of telling if something might be evidence, and knowing when it clearly isn’t. Such knowledge helps you develop a taste, so to speak, in evidence. Isn’t that valuable, given how frequently you may be giving evidence to support your ideas, and how frequently others do the same to you?

What Is an Explanation?
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What Is an Explanation?

Many people spent a lot of time, across centuries, trying to build good explanations, and trying to distinguish good from bad ones. While there is no consensus on what “explanation” is (always and everywhere), it is worth knowing what good explanations may have in common. It helps develop a taste in explanations, which is certainly helpful given how frequently you may need to explain something, and how often others offered explanations to you.