How Do Quantifiers Affect the Quality of Requirements?
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[Context] Requirements quality can have a substantial impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of using requirements artifacts in a development process. Quantifiers such as “at least”, “all”, or “exactly” are common language constructs used to express requirements. Quantifiers can be formulated by affirmative phrases (“At least”) or negative phrases (“Not less than”). [Problem] It is long assumed that negation in quantification negatively affects the readability of requirements, however, empirical research on these topics remains sparse. [Principal Idea] In a web-based experiment with 51 participants, we compare the impact of negations and quantifiers on readability in terms of reading effort, reading error rate and perceived reading difficulty of requirements. [Results] For 5 out of 9 quantifiers, our participants performed better on the affirmative phrase compared to the negative phrase. Only for one quantifier, the negative phrase was more effective. [Contribution] This research focuses on creating an empirical understanding of the effect of language in Requirements Engineering. It furthermore provides concrete advice on how to phrase requirements.
KeywordsRequirements syntax Natural language Reqs. quality
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