In the last week of December/2013 we at the International Association of Software Architects (IASA) in Israel had the great pleasure to host Prof. Dan Berry for a talk on Requirements Engineering. Please find the details about the talk below, including links to research papers that Prof. Berry has published on this topic.
Title: The Impact of Domain Ignorance on the Effectiveness of Requirements Idea Generation during Requirements Elicitation and on Software Development in General
It is believed that the effectiveness of requirements engineering activities depends at least partially on the individuals involved. One of the factors that sems to influence an individual’s effectiveness in requirements engineering activities is knowledge of the problem being solved, i.e., domain knowledge. While a requirements engineer’s having in-depth domain knowledge helps him or her to understand the problem easier, he or she can fall for tacit assumptions of the domain and might overlook issues that are obvious to domain experts.
Historically, several, including the speaker, have reported observations that sometimes ignorance of the domain in a software development project is useful for promoting the elicitation of tacit assumptions and out-of-the-box ideas.
Recently there have been attempts to confirm these observations with well-designed empirical studies.
This talk describes a controlled experiment to test the hypothesis that adding to a requirements elicitation team for a computer-based system in a particular domain, requirements analysts that are ignorant of the domain improves the effectiveness of the requirements elicitation team. The results show some support for accepting the hypothesis. The results were analyzed also to determine the effect of creativity, industrial experience, and requirements engineering experience.
The controlled experiment was followed up by a confirmatory case study of an elicitation brainstorm in a software-producing company by a team with four domain experts from the company and four domain ignorants from our university. According to the company domain experts, the brainstorm produced ideas that they would not have produced themselves.
A different empirical study tested the hypothesis that putting newbies to a project to work doing tasks that benefit from domain ignorance makes their immigration to the project smoother. First, a survey was conducted among software development managers of varying experience to determine what software development activities they thought were at least helped by domain ignorance. Second, transcripts from fourteen interviews of presumably-domain-ignorant immigrants to new software development projects at one large company were examined to determine if the activities performed by those with the smoothest immigrations were activities that are at least helped by domain ignorance. The conclusions are that ignorance can play an important role in software development but there are a lot of other factors that influence immigration smoothness.
Paper: “The impact of domain knowledge on the effectiveness of requirements idea generation during requirements elicitation”, 20th IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference, 2012
Paper: “An industrial case study of the impact of domain ignorance on the effectiveness of requirements idea generation during requirements elicitation”, 21st IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference, 2013
Joint work with Ali Niknafs and Gaurav Mehrotra
Prof. Berry’s Bio:
Daniel M. Berry got his B.S. in Mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, USA in 1969 and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA in 1974. He was on the faculty of the Computer Science Department at the University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA from 1972 until 1987. He was in the Computer Science Faculty at the Technion, Haifa, Israel from 1987 until 1999. From 1990 until 1994, he worked for half of each year at the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, where he was part of a group that built CMU’s Master of Software Engineering program. During the 1998-1999 academic year, he visited the Computer Systems Group at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. In 1999, Berry moved to the the Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo. Prof. Berry’s current research interests are software engineering in general, and requirements engineering and electronic publishing in the specific.
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This meeting was organized in cooperation with ILTAM.