Friday, November 27, 2009

Climate Change

Just found out the blog maintained by Steve Easterbrook on matters related to climate change. Professor Easterbrook has been studying how requirements engineering may help dealing with the huge problem of climate change, in special by providing modeling capabilities at a level of abstraction distinct from the models usually built by climate scientists.

Anyway, I am adding his blog to the Links bar.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Software Transparency

Check the Software Transparency portal at PUC-Rio. Click here, or follow the link on the Links sidebar.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Requirements Engineering´s Roots

I am honored to be among the first researchers to be involved in the Requirements Engineering area. We were involved in the first RE conference as well as on the starting of IFIP W.G. 2.9.

I have recovered, and made available, a literature survey on Requirements. This survey, "A Survey on Requirements Analysis", preceded my Ph.D. thesis. The document contributed to the amalgamation of the different sources that shaped the area. I was one of the first to stress the problem of using the phrase “analysis” to denote the semantics of building requirements. The survey was popular at some point of time, as to be listed on Amazon.

The text is a collection of around 200 bibliography entries, which are summarized and briefly commented.

During the preparation for a talk I gave at Professor John Mylopoulos´s Festschrift I needed to recollect his importance to Requirements Engineering, and as such I went to reread the report. From there it was clear the importance of Mylopoulos to the area, specially because of the book “On Conceptual Modeling, Perspectives from Artificial Intelligence, Databases, and Programming Languages”. Coming back to the Survey I came to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to make it available.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Systems Analysis versus Requirements Engineering

I have been teaching and preaching that the
phrase "systems analysis" is not a proper term for the task of
building requirements. In reality it causes a lot of
misunderstandings for young professionals.

In fact, the phrase "systems analysis" was used since, in the past,
reverse engineering an "existing system" or "old system" was the
popular way to gain insight about the Universe of Discourse.

Check some of the arguments in a brief summary of a panel
at WER 04.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tag Oriented Search

Way back I wrote “Delicious may be a great undertaking by people in building a shared ontology. Let’s see.”

I just have read an article on Computer Magazine that explores this possibility. The article uses a meta-tagging strategy implemented by a tool called “Mr. Taggy”.

It is worth checking it up.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

United States CTO

I just learned from the La Times that the new CTO was finally
appointed. As the CIO, he also comes from Virginia. His name
is Aneesh Chopra (see also a note about him 4 years ago).

This is what President Obama is expecting from this nomination:

"Aneesh and Jeffrey will work closely with our
Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra, who
is responsible for setting technology policy across the
government, and using technology to improve
security, ensure transparency, and lower costs.
The goal is to give all Americans a voice in
their government and ensure that they know exactly
how we’re spending their money – and can hold us
accountable for the results. "

I marked the phrase "ensure transparency" above.

The same LA Times news reports on the new position in
federal government, the Chief Performance Officer.

Read more about the new CTO from Tim O'Reilly´s blog, which
includes a video where Chopra talks about Open Government, data
mining, data standards, legacy, broadband, health systems and
so on.

It seems that his strong point is the vision that government
should be in the upfront usage of new technology and not behind it,
as it seems it is in the United States, as well as in other countries.

Bringing the possibilities of IT to government is his main drive.

Interesting as well is his view on approaching R&D as support for
attracting new industries, a policy applied in Virginia for the case
of the Rolls Royce jet engine plant.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Open Government

President Obama issued a memorandum directing the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services to produce a Open Government Directive.

The major goals of this initiative are:

  • Government should be transparent
  • Government should be participatory
  • Government should be collaborative

Although the major focus will be information transparency we hope that at same point the work group do also point out the need for process transparency, which will lead to the discussion of software transparency.

Let’s hope that the idea of Open Government does flourish and be an example to other countries.

During the process of writing the above note, I went on searching to find the link to the Chief Technology Officer site. I could not find one. However, I found out that there will be a Chief Information Officer. I could not find a site for the US CIO, but found out the site for the Council of US CIOs.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Information is Power


Just read this, in the awakening of the AIG debts. The U.S. government invested over US$ 150 billion on the company as a way of protecting the whole financial system. Press and citizens are crying out: why the company use part of this money to pay bonuses to its financial department? I am quoting the LA Times: "AIG names firms that got bailout cash" by By E. Scott Reckard and Tom Petruno, March 16, 2009.
"AIG did reduce some of its bonus payments last week
under pressure from Treasury Secretary
Timothy F. Geithner but said it was legally obligated
to pay $165 million to the financial products employees,
or else they not only could seek punitive damages
but might quit. That could cause even higher losses,
the insurer said, because these are the only employees
with the knowledge to "unwind" AIG's complex financial deals."

This is, yet, another example of the importance of process transparency.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Information Transparency

In discussing software transparency, we have differentiated the concept of information transparency from process transparency.

A recent article in Wired does tackle the issue of information transparency. It points out that, allowing access to huge volumes of data is not sufficient for transparency, the information also needs to be understandable. In our definition of transparency as a network of softgoals, we list auditability, understandability, informativeness, usuability and accessibility as required steps towards transparency.

The article mentions the use of XBRL , a domain language for financial data on top of XML, as a possible way of organizing data, and as such contributing for a better understandability as well as allowing for automated processes (software) to interpret them. Although this is positive, it is just a small part of the overall problem.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Well we all know how important requirements traceability is for software engineering.

I just found a curious example of traceability that has a lot to do with business processes and how the financial market does operate. I came to it from watching a video on foreclosures from ABC news.

The written material is here. It is an example of the lack of a proper process for keeping traceability. A side effect: for some people, it is becoming a possible relief, or at least a way of postponing losing their homes.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cars are Hungry for Code

Recently, I have quoted Prof. Broy with respect to the amount of processors embeded in cars. Anyway, I just found out that IEEE Spectrum run an news article on the subject. Prof Broy and other experts are cited.
Bottom line: some of the top cars are getting out with around 100 M lines of code!
It is more than amazing, it is almost crazy. Anyway.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Transparency on the LA Times

Just read a note in the LA Times regarding the lack of transparency on the negotiation for the
bailout bill.

Interesting to notice a link to President Obama white paper on transparency, but the given link does not work.

However, the link to a 9 page (PDF) document is working, in there, one page details the ideas behind: "Create a Transparent and Connected Democracy".

Friday, February 06, 2009

Software Transparency

Our group at PUC-Rio just finished the first version of a Software Transparency site. Although the site is still in Portuguese, there are links to English material.

There will be, soon, an English version.