WPI Computer Science Department

Computer Science Department

Design Rationale


Janet Burge (jburge@cs.wpi.edu)
Ph.D. research
Advisor: Dave Brown
External: Feniosky Pena-Mora (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).


Documentation of a design normally consists of a description of the final design itself: effectively a "snapshot" of just the final decisions. Capturing the design rationale, the alternatives considered while designing and the reasons for accepting or rejecting them, offers a richer view into both the product and the decision making process. This information could be invaluable as an aid in revising, maintaining, documenting, evaluating, and learning the design.

Most research on design rationale has focussed on its capture and representation. This research takes a different approach by focussing on how the rationale could be used. Identifying and implementing uses for rationale provides incentive for capture, guidelines for what types of rationale might be the most useful, and provides representation guidelines.

Current work involves implementing a system that inferences over design rationale to detect inconsistencies within a current design and to assess the impact of changes. The analysis consists of two types of inferences: syntactic to inference over the "structure" of the rationale, and semantic, to look at the content.


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dcb@cs.wpi.edu / Mon Jun 6 07:47:27 EDT 2005