[1] Jon G. Hall and Lucia Rapanotti. A design theory for software engineering. Technical Report 2016/01, January 2016. [ bib | .pdf ]
Software Engineering is a discipline that has been shaped by over 50 years of practice. Many have argued that its theoretical basis has been slow to develop and that, in fact, a substantial theory of Software Engineering is still lacking. This article contributes to the ongoing debate by proposing a design theory for Software Engineering. From an ontological perspective, our theory embodies a view of Software Engineering as the practice of framing, representing and transforming Software Engineering problems. As such, theory statements concern the characterisation of individual problems and how problems relate and transform to other problems as part of problem solving processes, accounting for the way Software Engineering transforms the physical world to meet a recognised need, and for the problem structuring process in context. From an epistemological perspective, the theory has developed through research cycles including both theory-then-(empirical-)research and (empirical-)research-then-theory strategies spanning over a decade; both theoretical statements and related empirical evidence are included in the discussion. Analytic, explanatory and predictive properties of the theory are also discussed, alongside acknowledged limitations and current research to overcome them, and how the theory relates to other work in the literature.

[2] Amel Bennaceur, Thein Than Tun, Arosha K. Bandara, Yijun Yu, and Bashar Nuseibeh. Feature-driven Mediator Synthesis: Supporting Collaborative Security in the Internet of Things. Technical Report 2016/02, July 2016. [ bib | .pdf ]
As the number, complexity, and heterogeneity of connected devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) increase, so does our need to secure these devices, the environment in which they operate, and the assets they manage or control. Collaborative security exploits the capabilities of these connected devices and opportunistically composes them in order to protect assets from potential harm. By dynamically composing these capabilities, collaborative security implements the security controls through which security (and other) requirements are satisfied. However, this dynamic composition is often hampered by the heterogeneity of the devices available in the environment and the diversity of their behaviours. In this paper we present a systematic, tool-supported approach for collaborative security where the analysis of requirements drives the opportunistic composition of capabilities in order to realise the appropriate security control in the operating environment. This opportunistic composition is supported through a combination of feature modelling and mediator synthesis. We use features and transition systems to represent and reason about capabilities and requirements. We formulate the selection of the optimal set of features to implement adequate security control as a multi-objective constrained optimisation problem and use constraint programming to solve it efficiently. The selected features are then used to scope the behaviours of the capabilities and thereby restrict the state space for synthesising the appropriate mediator. The synthesised mediator coordinates the behaviours of the capabilities to satisfy the behaviour specified by the security control. Our approach ensures that the implemented security controls are the optimal ones given the capabilities available in the operating environment. We demonstrate the validity of our approach by implementing a Feature-driven medIation for Collaborative Security (FICS) tool and applying it to a collaborative robots case study.

[3] Georgi Markov, Jon G. Hall, and Lucia Rapanotti. POE-Δ: Towards an engineering framework for solving change problems. Technical Report 2016/03, September 2016. [ bib | .pdf ]
Many organisational problems are addressed through change and re-engineering of existing Information Systems rather than radical new design. In the face of up to 70% IT project failure, devising effective ways to tackle this type of change remains an open challenge. The paper discusses the motivation, theoretical foundation, characteristics and evaluation of a novel framework - referred to as POE-Δ, which is rooted in design and engineering and is aimed at providing systematic support for representing, structuring and exploring change problems of socio-technical nature. We generalise an existing theory of greenfield design as problem solving for application to change problems, using a design science research methodology. From a theoretical perspective POE-Δ is a subset of its parent framework, allowing the seamless integration of greenfield and brownfield design to tackle change problems. Its initial case study evaluation, consisting in its application to a real-world change problem of realistic complexity, shows that POE-Δ allows the systematic analysis of change problems, leading to clearer understanding and more informed decision making.

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