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Natural Language Processing Applications in Requirements Engineering

[+] Author Affiliations
Alex Lash, Kevin Murray, Gregory Mocko

Clemson University, Clemson, SC

Paper No. DETC2012-71084, pp. 541-549; 9 pages
  • ASME 2012 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 2: 32nd Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, Parts A and B
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, August 12–15, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4501-1
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


In the design process, the requirements serve as the benchmark for the entire product. Therefore, the quality of requirement statements is essential to the success of a design. Because of their ergonomic-nature, most requirements are written in natural language (NL). However, writing requirements in natural language presents many issues such as ambiguity, specification issues, and incompleteness. Therefore, identifying issues in requirements involves analyzing these NL statements. This paper presents a linguistic approach to requirement analysis, which utilizes grammatical elements of requirements statements to identify requirement statement issues. These issues are organized by the entity—word, sentence, or document—that they affect. The field of natural language processing (NLP) provides a core set of tools that can aid with this linguistic analysis and provide a method to create a requirement analysis support tool. NLP addresses requirements on processing levels: lexical, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic. While processing on the lexical and syntactic level are well-defined, mining semantic and pragmatic data is performed in a number of different methods. This paper provides an overview of these current requirement analysis methods in light of the presented linguistic approach. This overview will be used to identify areas for further research and development. Finally, a prototype requirement analysis support tool will be presented. This tool seeks to demonstrate how the semantic processing level can begin to be addressed in requirement analysis. The tool will analyze a sample set of requirements from a family of military tactical vehicles (FMTV) requirements document. It implements NLP tools to semantically compare requirements statements based upon their grammatical subject.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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