Salome Maro, Computer Science and Engineering

Addressing Traceability Challenges in the Development of Embedded Systems


Context: Currently, development efforts in embedded systems development lead to a large number of interconnected artifacts. Traceability enables understanding and managing these artifacts as they evolve. However, establishing traceability is not a trivial task, it requires the development organization to plan how traceability will fit into its processes and provide tools to support traceability establishment. In practice, guidelines for how traceability should be established are lacking. Therefore, companies struggle with establishing traceability and making the most of traceability once it is established.

Objective: The overall objective of this research is to improve traceability processes and tools for embedded systems development. In this thesis, we started with first understanding the domain and practical traceability challenges and also investigated how traceability tools can be improved.

Method: Since establishing traceability is a practical problem, our research is conducted in close collaboration with industry partners. We conducted qualitative empirical studies to understand which traceability challenges exist in reality and designed solutions for some of these challenges. Concretely, we used action research, case study and design science methods for the different studies.

Results: Our studies show that establishing traceability in practice still has several challenges, the most prominent ones being: the manual work of establishing traceability is high; the engineers responsible for creating the links perceive it as an overhead; lack of tools to enable using traceability; lack of methods and tools to measure its quality; no universal standards for traceability to be shared and exchanged and it is difficult to measure the return on investment of establishing traceability. To reduce the amount of manual work needed to maintain traceability links, we designed guidelines that can be followed by tool developers. We also show the feasibility of a configurable and extendable traceability management tool through a prototype implementation.

Contributions: As part of this thesis, we have elicited persistent traceability challenges in development of embedded systems development. This list of challenges can also be used by other researchers who are interested in the topic of traceability for embedded systems development. As a first initiative towards solving these challenges, we propose important factors and guidelines for traceability tool developers and organizations that need to acquire traceability tools. Lastly, we have demonstrated the feasibility of these factors and guidelines through a prototype implementation. This implementation is open source and available for industry to use in their development and for other researchers to use for studies and extend the tool.
​Salome Maro belongs to the Software Engineering division of Computer Science and Engineering.

Discussion leader: Prof. Andrea Zisman The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
Category Licentiate seminar
Location: Jupiter 520
Starts: 09 May, 2017, 13:30
Ends: 09 May, 2017, 14:30

Published: Tue 18 Apr 2017.