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Analysing anaphoric ambiguity in natural language requirements

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dc.contributor.author Yang, Hui
dc.contributor.author De Roeck, Anne
dc.contributor.author Gervasi, Vincenzo
dc.contributor.author Nuseibeh, Bashar
dc.date.accessioned 2012-04-25T13:55:09Z
dc.date.available 2012-04-25T13:55:09Z
dc.date.issued 2011
dc.identifier.citation Requirements Engineering Journal 16(3),pp. 163-189 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10344/2139
dc.description peer-reviewed en_US
dc.description.abstract Many requirements documents are written in natural language (NL). However, with the flexibility of NL comes the risk of introducing unwanted ambiguities in the requirements and misunderstandings between stakeholders. In this paper, we describe an automated approach to identify potentially nocuous ambiguity, which occurs when text is interpreted differently by different readers. We concentrate on anaphoric ambiguity, which occurs when readers may disagree on how pronouns should be interpreted. We describe a number of heuristics, each of which captures information that may lead a reader to favour a particular interpretation of the text. We use these heuristics to build a classifier, which in turn predicts the degree to which particular interpretations are preferred. We collected multiple human judgements on the interpretation of requirements exhibiting anaphoric ambiguity, and show how the distribution of these judgements can be used to assess whether a particular instance of ambiguity is nocuous. Given a requirements document written in natural language, our approach can identify sentences which contain anaphoric ambiguity, and use the classifier to alert the requirements writer of text that runs the risk of misinterpretation. We report on a series of experiments that we conducted to evaluate the performance of the automated system we developed to support our approach. The results show that the system achieves high recall with a consistent improvement on baseline precision subject to some ambiguity tolerance levels, allowing us to explore and highlight realistic and potentially problematic ambiguities in actual requirements documents. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher Association for Computing Machinery en_US
dc.relation.ispartofseries Requirements Engineering Journal; 16(3): pp 163-189
dc.relation.uri http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00766-011-0119-y
dc.rights en_US
dc.rights "© ACM, 2011. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of ACM for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Requirements Engineering Journal 16(3),pp 163-189 doi10.1007/s00766-011-0119-y
dc.subject nocuous ambiguity en_US
dc.subject natural language requirements en_US
dc.subject anaphoric ambiguity en_US
dc.subject conference resolution en_US
dc.title Analysing anaphoric ambiguity in natural language requirements en_US
dc.type info:eu-repo/semantics/article en_US
dc.contributor.sponsor EPSRC en_US
dc.contributor.sponsor SFI
dc.relation.projectid MaTRex project EP/FO688591 en_US
dc.relation.projectid 03/CE2/i303_1
dc.internal.authorcontactother Bashar.Nuseibeh@lero.ie


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