Software Engineering Using Rationale

Speaker: Professor Janet E. Burge, Miami University, Computer Science and Software Engineering

Venue: Windstream Room, Hardymon Building


Many decisions have to be made when developing a software system and a successful outcome depends on how well thought out these decisions were. The decisions made, and alternatives considered, form the rationale for the system. The rationale goes beyond standard documentation by describing the developers' intent and all alternatives considered rather than only those selected. While the potential usefulness of this information is seldom questioned, the rationale is rarely captured in practice. There is a pervasive belief that developers will not be willing to take the time and effort to perform what might be perceived as "extra" documentation. In order to encourage rationale capture there needs to be some incentive to do so. This talk describes the Software Engineering Using RATionale system (SEURAT). SEURAT is integrated with the Eclipse Interactive Development Environment and inferences over the rationale to evaluate decision alternatives and perform impact assessment when requirements, development criteria, and assumptions change. In addition to development environment integration, SEURAT also supports importing rationale extracted from external sources, such as Word documents, to help further reduce the effort of rationale capture. SEURAT also interfaces with the XFeature feature modeling tool so that rationale can be used to help customers use the rationale to guide product feature selection.


Dr. Janet Burge is an Assistant Professor in the Miami University Computer Science and Software Engineering Department. She received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (2005) and performed her undergraduate work at Michigan Technological University (1984). Her research interests include design rationale, software engineering, AI in design, and knowledge elicitation. She is a co-author (with Jack Carroll, Ray McCall,and Ivan Mistrik) of the book /Rationale-Based Software Engineering/. She has been at Miami University since 2005. Prior to that point, she worked for more than 20 years in industry as a software engineer and research scientist. Dr. Burge is a recent recipient of a NSF CAREER Award for her project 'Rationale Capture for High-Assurance Systems.'

Speaker's personal page.

Host: Professor J. Hayes