Title: A methodology supporting syntactic, lexical and semantic clarification of requirements in systems engineering

Authors: François Christophe; Faisal Mokammel; Eric Coatanéa; An Nguyen; Mohamed Bakhouya; Alain Bernard

Addresses: Department of Engineering Design and Production, Aalto University School of Engineering, P.O. Box 14100, 00076 Aalto, Finland ' Department of Engineering Design and Production, Aalto University School of Engineering, P.O. Box 14100, 00076 Aalto, Finland ' Department of Engineering Design and Production, Aalto University School of Engineering, P.O. Box 14100, 00076 Aalto, Finland ' Concordia Institute for Information Systems Engineering, Concordia University - Engineering & Computer Science, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W, Montreal, Quebec H3G 1M8, Canada ' Department of Engineering Design and Production, Aalto University School of Engineering, P.O. Box 14100, 00076 Aalto, Finland ' Ecole Centrale de Nantes, IRCCyN UMR CNRS 6597 1, rue de la Noe, BP 92101, 44321 Nantes Cedex 3, France

Abstract: Product development is a challenging activity. The process begins with a description and representation of a design problem in form of a requirements document. It involves two phases: elicitation by description in Natural Language (NL) and clarification of the description. NL implies interpretation of terms within a context to avoid later misunderstanding. The paper proposes a methodology to elicit and refine the initial needs. The elicitation is done by finding support information from several sources such as patent databases, encyclopaedias and commercial websites. The refinement supported by a computer-based approach is done on different levels (grammar, words and context selection) to reduce the ambiguity of the requirements descriptions. The initial description is refined by an automatic questioning process. This is followed by an assisted search and selection of answers from different web-based sources. Relevant answers are selected using a similarity metric. A case study is used to demonstrate the approach.

Keywords: early design process; requirements engineering; syntactic clarification; lexical clarification; semantic clarification; product development; natural language processing; NLP; data mining; patent databases; encyclopaedias; commercial websites; ambiguity; automatic questioning; assisted search; similarity metrics.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPD.2014.062973

International Journal of Product Development, 2014 Vol.19 No.4, pp.173 - 190

Received: 08 Sep 2012
Accepted: 06 Feb 2013

Published online: 13 Jun 2014 *

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