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Title: Formalisation and evaluation of focus theories for requirements elicitation dialogues in natural language
Author: Lecoeuche, Renaud
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2000
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Requirements elicitation is a difficult part of software engineering in which the specifications for a new system are discussed with potential users. Because verifying that requirements are correct for a complex task, computer support is often beneficial. This support requires formal specifications. However, people are not usually trained to use formal specification languages. Task or domain specific languages smooth the learning curve to write formal specifications but the elicitation process often remains error prone. Users need more support while writing specifications. In particular, a tool which interacts with them and helps them express their requirements in a domain specific way could lower the number of requirements elicitation errors. However, although numerous frameworks have been developed to support the expression and analysis of requirements, much less has been paid to the control of the dialogue taking place between the users and the system whilst using such frameworks. Focus theories are theories which explain how participants in a dialogue pay attention to certain things, at certain point of a dialogue, and how this attention may shift to other topics. In this thesis, we propose to use focus theories to improve the quality of the interaction between users and requirements elicitation tools. We show that, by using the constraints on dialogue evolution provided by these theories and the constraints provided by the requirements elicitation task, we can guide the elicitation process in a natural and easily understandable manner. This interactive way of using focus theories is new. It could be used in other applications where reasoning and communication play important roles and need to interact. We also carry out a comparative study of the use of focus theories for requirements elicitation, which requires us to be precise about our interpretation of our chosen focus theories and to develop an innovative means of empirical testing for them. This gives us a formalisation of focus theories as well as a method for developing and testing experimental dialogue managers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available