Requirements Engineering, CSU Long Beach, Penzenstadler

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Status: under construction until May 2017, but you can take a look at the work in progress.



Course Requirements Engineering
Institution California State University Long Beach
Instructor(s) Birgit Penzenstadler
Term CECS 542, California State University Long Beach, Birgit Penzenstadler, 4th year undergraduate, or graduate
Course Overview Intermediate/advanced, elective.

This course aims to equip students to develop techniques of software-intensive systems through successful requirements analysis techniques and requirements engineering. Students learn systematic process of developing requirements through cooperative problem analysis, representation, and validation. Lecture 2 hours, Lab 4 hours. Semester long team project plus midterm and final exam. Letter grade only (A-F).

Course Length {{{courselength}}}
Student Characteristics 15-30 students of mixed backgrounds, some transfer, so not necessarily same software engineering knowledge
Prerequisites basic knowledge about the principles of software engineering and the software lifecycle
Infrastructure classroom, lab, slides, online materials

Learning Objectives

This course is the essential stepping-stone for conducting successful large, complex software engineering projects. It introduces students in depth to requirements engineering, which lays the foundation for design and all subsequent development phases. It prepares students for complex projects by introducing them to a variety of techniques that enable to analyze and specify requirements from different application domains and stakeholders. The course provides students with the necessary skillset to communicate, analyze, and negotiate with a wide range of potential stakeholders in a project. After completing the course students will be able to elicit, analyze, document and verify and validate requirements. In particular, they will be able to perform:

  • Stakeholder identification and analysis
  • Goal identification and analysis
  • Creating and refining a system vision
  • Developing a domain model of all involved application domains
  • Developing a usage model (in the form of UML use cases)
  • Eliciting and specifying quality requirements
  • Quality assurance techniques
  • Requirements management

Furthermore, they will be able to navigate a free open source software context with its development processes and best practices.

Methods of Assessment

  • what will students do in this course, and how will it be evaluated
    • Exams, assignments, projects, etc.
  • should be tied to learning objectives

Course Outline

This course exposes students to the problem of determining and specifying what a proposed software system should do, why and for whom the system is needed, not how the system should do it, which is the topic of downstream software engineering activities such as design and coding. There are some nontechnical aspects of the course, with respect to communication and negotiation with multiple stakeholders. Most of the course covers technical approaches to the requirements problem, such as techniques for eliciting stakeholder goals and requirements, notations and models for documenting and specifying requirements, strategies for negotiating requirements, and techniques for analyzing documented requirements. In detail, the course covers the following topics (1 per week, 2 class meetings per week):

  1. Why do we need Requirements Engineering and what is it?
  2. Principles: Definitions, process, roles
  3. System Models: Decomposition and abstraction, system views
  4. Frameworks: What reference structures can I use for requirements?
  5. Business Case Analysis: Why are we building this system?
  6. Stakeholders: Who are the people to talk to about requirements?
  7. Goals and Constraints: What are the major objectives for the system?
  8. System Vision: What exactly do we want to achieve?
  9. Domain Models: What are the surrounding systems ours interacts with?
  10. Usage Models: How will the system interact with the user?
  11. Software quality models: How to determine the quality characteristics?
  12. Quality requirements: How to specify which qualities need to be met?
  13. Quality assurance: How to ensure that RE is done in a good way?
  14. Change management: How to evolve requirements?

The class consists of interactive lectures from faculty and of lab discussion sessions. The assignments that are carried out in teams will be discussed together in class. Students will benefit from structured lectures that cover an adequate number of examples to facilitate student learning and introduce students to the topics covered. The instructor will introduce all requirements engineering methods and techniques in lectures using a number of examples and hands-on collaborative exercises using HFOSS. Also students will be provided with individual and team assignments and projects that are done outside of class or lab.

  • major topics, events, milestones
  • learning activities that can be adopted or adapted
  • new learning activities that should or could be developed
  • include links to foss2serve Learning Activities where appropriate
  • reading assignments and supporting materials
  • or link to course website

The following table provides a course overview per week. Each row per week describes the lecture topic and lab topic and activities. Note that this course currently has two meetings per week and CSULB has 15 week semesters, so some topics may have to be shortened in a different course setting.

Week Topics/Activities Reading Assignments
1 Course Introduction
  • Course logistics
  • Lecture: Brief overview of RE - Why do we need Requirements Engineering and what is it?
  • Lab: Brief overview of HFOSS and the planned activities
2 Topic
  • Lecture: Principles: Definitions, process, roles, problem/solution view, artifact orientation
  • Lab: Find the equivalents of those elements in HFOSS project, e.g. OpenMRS
3 Topic
  • Lecture: System Models: Decomposition and abstraction, system views
  • Activity:
  • read this
4 Topic
  • Lecture: Frameworks: What reference structures can I use for requirements?
  • Lab: Introduce activity (Re-)Engineering a Software Requirements Specification (to be filled in)
    • Part 1: Research the ISO RE standard 29148 and requirements specification templates.
    • Part 2: Find the requirements documented for OpenMRS and sort the information into a requirements specification template.
  • read this
5 Topic
  • Lecture: Business Case Analysis: Why are we building this system?
  • Lab: Make a business case (pitch) for a system
  • read this
6 Topic
  • Lecture: Stakeholders: Who are the people to talk to about requirements?
  • Lab: Activity (Re-)Engineering stakeholders, goals & questions part 1 (to be filled in)
    • Make list of stakeholders in HFOSS project
    • Make stakeholder model (deliverable)
  • read this
7 Topic
  • read this
8 Topic
  • Monk & Howard paper on Rich Pictures
  • Online tutorial by TheOpenUniversity
9 Topic
  • Activity
  • Lecture: Domain Models: What are the surrounding systems ours interacts with?
  • read this
10 Topic
  • read this
11 Topic
  • read this
12 Topic
  • read this
13 Topic
  • read this
14 Topic
  • Lecture: Change management: How to evolve requirements?
  • Activity: Bug tracker activity (to be linked)
  • read this

Notes to Instructor

  • Tips, suggestions, lessons learned (warnings)...

Here are a couple of books on requirements engineering as this topic is not covered in depth within this wiki:

  • Karl Wiegers and Joy Beatty: “Software Requirements”
  • Axel van Lamsweerde: “Requirements Engineering”
  • Klaus Pohl: “Requirements Engineering”

For the HFOSS part of the course, please refer to the internal and external references in the table above.

Moving Forward

  • This course is held for the first time in Spring 2017. If this page is not updated by August 2017 with experiences and further steps for moving forward, please hassle me per email so I do it :)

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