A Formal Analysis of the Shlaer-Mellor method: towards a toolkit for formal and informal requirements specification techniques

Roelf J. Wieringa, G. Saake

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)
    127 Downloads (Pure)


    In this paper, we define a number of tools that we think belong to the core of any toolkit for requirements engineers. The tools are conceptual and hence, they need precise definitions that lay down as exactly as possible what their meaning and possible use is. We argue that this definition can best be achieved by a formal specification of the tool. This means that for each semi-formal requirements engineering tool we should provide a formal specification that precisely specifies its meaning. We argue that this mutually enhances the formal and semi-formal technique: it makes formal techniques more usable and, as we will argue, at the same time simplifies the diagram-based notations. At the same time, we believe that the tools of the requirements engineer should, where possible, resemble the familiar semi-formal specification techniques used in practice today. In order to achieve this, we should search existing requirements specification techniques to look for a common kernel of familiar semi-formal techniques and try to provide a formalization for these. In this paper we illustrate this approach by a formal analysis of the Shlaer-Mellor method for object-oriented requirements specification. The formal specification language used in this analysis is LCM, which is a language based on dynamic logic, but similar results would have been achieved by means of another language. We analyze the techniques used in the information model, state model, process model and communication model of the Shlaer-Mellor method, identify ambiguities and redundancies, indicate how these can be eliminated and propose a formalization of the result. We conclude with a listing of the tools extracted from the Shlaer-Mellor method that we can add to a toolkit that in addition contains LCM as formal specification technique.
    Original languageUndefined
    Article number10.1007/BF01235905
    Pages (from-to)106-131
    Number of pages26
    JournalRequirements engineering
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 1996


    • SCS-Services
    • IR-67422
    • Formal Specification
    • EWI-10644
    • Requirements Specification
    • Object-oriented analysis
    • Dynamic Logic

    Cite this