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An Overview of Requirements Evolution

Changing requirements are widely regarded as one of the most significant risks for software systems development. However, in today’s business landscape, these changing requirements also represent opportunities to exploit new and evolving business conditions. In consonance with other agile methods, we advocate requirements engineering techniques that embrace and accommodate requirements change. This agile approach to requirements must nonetheless be systematic and incorporate some degree of planning, especially with respect to accommodating quality attributes such as safety and security. This chapter examines the nature of requirements evolution, and the two main problems that it entails. The first is to correctly understand what is changing in the requirements, that is, the elicitation problem. The other is to act on that new information using models and other representations of the requirements, influencing the architecture and implementation of the software system. This chapter first motivates the importance of considering changing requirements in evolving software systems. It then surveys historical and existing approaches to requirements evolution with respect to the elicitation and taking action problems. Finally, the chapter describes a framework for supporting requirements evolution, defining the Requirements Evolution Problem as finding new specifications to satisfy changed requirements and domain assumptions. To motivate this, we discuss a real-life case study of the payment card industry.

The above is a preliminary version of the chapter published as: Ernst, N., Borgida, A., Jureta, I.J. and Mylopoulos, J., 2014. An overview of requirements evolution. Evolving Software Systems, pp.3-32.

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