Automatic checking of conformance to requirement boilerplates via text chunking: an industrial case study

Chetan Arora, Mehrdad Sabetzadeh, Lionel Briand, Frank Zimmer, Raul Gnaga

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Context, Boilerplates have long been used in Requirements Engineering (RE) to increase the precision of natural language requirements and to avoid ambiguity problems caused by unrestricted natural language. When boilerplates are used, an important quality assurance task is to verify that the requirements indeed conform to the boilerplates. Objective. If done manually, checking conformance to boilerplates is laborious, presenting a particular challenge when the task has to be repeated multiple times in response to requirements changes. Our objective is to provide automation for checking conformance to boilerplates using a Natural Language Processing (NLP) technique, called Text Chunking, and to empirically validate the effectiveness of the automation. Method. We use an exploratory case study, conducted in an industrial setting, as the basis for our empirical investigation. Results. We present a generalizable and tool-supported approach for boilerplate conformance checking. We report on the application of our approach to the requirements document for a major software component in the satellite domain. We compare alternative text chunking solutions and argue about their effectiveness for boilerplate conformance checking. Conclusion. Our results indicate that: (1) text chunking provides a robust and accurate basis for checking conformance to boilerplates, and (2) the effectiveness of boilerplate conformance checking based on text chunking is not compromised even when the requirements glossary terms are unknown. This makes our work particularly relevant to practice, as many industrial requirements documents have incomplete glossaries.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2013 ACM/IEEE International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement
Subtitle of host publication(ESEM 2013)
PublisherIEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement 2013 - Baltimore, United States of America
Duration: 10 Oct 201311 Oct 2013

Publication series

NameInternational Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement
ISSN (Print)1949-3770


ConferenceInternational Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement 2013
Abbreviated titleESEM 2013
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America


  • Case Study Research
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  • Requirement Boilerplates
  • Text Chunking

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