A Refinement Calculus for Requirements Engineering Based on Argumentation Theory

Yehia ElRakaiby, Alexander Borgida, Alessio Ferrari, John Mylopoulos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The Requirements Engineering (RE) process starts with initial requirements elicited from stakeholders – however conflicting, unattainable, incomplete and ambiguous – and iteratively refines them into a specification that is consistent, complete, valid and unambiguous. We propose a novel RE process in the form of a calculus where the process is envisioned as an iterative application of refinement operators, with each operator removing a defect from the current requirements. Our proposal is motivated by the dialectic and incremental nature of RE activities. The calculus, which we call CaRE, casts the RE problem as an iterative argument between stakeholders, who point out defects (ambiguity, incompleteness, etc.) of existing requirements, and then propose refinements to address those defects, thus leading to the construction of a refinement graph. This graph is then a conceptual model of an RE process enactment. The semantics of these models is provided by Argumentation Theory, where a requirement may be attacked for having a defect, which in turn may be eliminated by a refinement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationConceptual Modeling - 39th International Conference, ER 2020, Proceedings
EditorsGillian Dobbie, Ulrich Frank, Gerti Kappel, Stephen W. Liddle, Heinrich C. Mayr
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9783030625214
StatePublished - 2020
Event39th International Conference on Conceptual Modeling, ER 2020 - Vienna, Austria
Duration: Nov 3 2020Nov 6 2020

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume12400 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference39th International Conference on Conceptual Modeling, ER 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


  • Argumentation theory
  • RE calculus
  • RE process
  • Requirements engineering


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