Formal Requirements Specification

Authored by: Jonathan P. Bowen , Mike Hinchey , Emil Vassev

Encyclopedia of Software Engineering

Print publication date:  November  2010
Online publication date:  November  2010

Print ISBN: 9781420059779
eBook ISBN: 9781351249270
Adobe ISBN:


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To avoid problems in software development, requirements must be elicited and documented properly. The formal methods approach to requirements specification provides precision, helps to refine requirements, and strives to ensure their correctness by providing a mathematical basis. Overall, formal specifications can be very beneficial for the entire development process due to the mathematical rigor that can help in avoiding errors, but only if formal methods are employed judiciously. In addition, writing good formal specifications requires both engineering skills and abstract thinking, which come with practice as well as expertise. In this entry, formal requirements specification is discussed in terms of advantages and trade-offs, the process of formalization, and best practices. To demonstrate the style and give the reader a feel for formal specification, a case study of formalizing requirements using the Z notation is presented.

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