CERE'03 logo The Second International Workshop on Comparative Evaluation in Requirements Engineering
Kyoto, Japan
September 7, 2004

Held in conjunction with the
12th IEEE International Conference on Requirements Engineering (RE'04).
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Comparative Evaluation of Requirements Engineering

Is it too much too soon, too little too late, or just the right amount at just the right time?


We know that good requirements engineering dictates the early (and continual) discovery of design assumptions and issues. Practicing what we preach, we admit to the following assumptions:

  • Computer Science (CS) is science
  • Requirements Engineering (RE) is engineering
  • Conjectures and formative knowledge are acquired in science as in engineering — by discovery
  • Conjectures are validated very differently in engineering than in science
  • RE is today where electrical engineering was in 1814 and where medicine has been (and the frontiers still are) for the last several thousand years.

We are at the frontiers of the design of comparative evaluation approaches and our design issues are:

  • What important questions do we need to discuss before launching serious studies in CERE?
  • What can we learn from other engineering disciplines in the way they determine the efficacy of their validation approaches?
  • What can we learn from discoveries in science, humanities, and the arts that will serve us well?

As always, this list of assumptions and issues is hopelessly incomplete (and possibly probably argumentative) but will serve as our starting point. We will propose answers to these questions and, as always, raise a few more.

We will explore specific discoveries in engineering and medicine in their early days (1804 to 1824, 1854 to 1874 respectively) in order to look at the dynamics of discovery. We will discuss an epistemological model suggesting opportunistic research strategies and suggest the application of Toulmin's structure of argument1 as a means for getting closer to today's RE truths. We draw upon levels-of-evidence reporting from modern medicine as means for documenting our findings. The CERE movement is making up for lost time to avoid being "too little too late." But, it is vitally important to recognize the risks of "too much too soon" in such a young field. We advocate deliberate but aggressive, means in the pursuit of "just the right amount at just the right time."


SPEAKER: Donald C. Gause, Binghamton University

Donald C. Gause is a Research Professor in the Bioengineering Department of the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering, State University of New York @ Binghamton as well as a Principal of Savile Row, LLC.

Don Gause has worked as an engineer and computer programmer and has managed engineering, programming and education groups with General Motors and IBM. He has been active as a consultant and professor for the past 35 years and served for many of these years as an adjunct member of IBM's Systems Research Institute (SRI). He has been a visiting scholar and has lectured at many universities and institutes around the world, has been an associate editor of the International Journal of Cybernetics and Systems, and has served as a national lecturer for a number of professional societies.

Mr. Gause's consulting and research interests include the development and analysis of requirements engineering and systems design processes, the design of user-oriented systems, and the management of innovation within large organizations. He has advised in the elicitation and documentation of business plans and requirements for Internet start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been involved in the development of strategic business systems, new products and processes for many leading firms from such diverse areas as medicine, drug design, genomics, global banking, automotive design, process control, and computer systems development.

Mr. Gause is the author (with G.M. Weinberg) of Are Your Lights On?: How to Figure Out What the Problem REALLY Is, Dorset House, N.Y., 1990 and Exploring Requirements: Quality BEFORE Design, Dorset House, N.Y., 1989.