Assessing traceability of software engineering artifacts

Senthil Karthikeyan Sundaram, Jane Huffman Hayes, Alex Dekhtyar, E. Ashlee Holbrook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


The generation of traceability links or traceability matrices is vital to many software engineering activities. It is also person-power intensive, time-consuming, error-prone, and lacks tool support. The activities that require traceability information include, but are not limited to, risk analysis, impact analysis, criticality assessment, test coverage analysis, and verification and validation of software systems. Information Retrieval (IR) techniques have been shown to assist with the automated generation of traceability links by reducing the time it takes to generate the traceability mapping. Researchers have applied techniques such as Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), vector space retrieval, and probabilistic IR and have enjoyed some success. This paper concentrates on examining issues not previously widely studied in the context of traceability: the importance of the vocabulary base used for tracing and the evaluation and assessment of traceability mappings and methods using secondary measures. We examine these areas and perform empirical studies to understand the importance of each to the traceability of software engineering artifacts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-335
Number of pages23
JournalRequirements Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Our work is funded by NASA under grant NAG5-11732 and partially funded by the National Science Foundation under NSF grant CCF-0811140. We thank Stephanie Ferguson, Ken McGill, and Tim Menzies. We thank Olga Dekhtyar for her assistance with statistical analysis. We thank Dan Berry and his students at the University of Waterloo. We also thank Sarah Howard, Sravanthi Vadlamudi, and James Osborne who worked on early versions of the software used for the evaluation. We also thank the anonymous reviewers of this paper for their valuable suggestions during the revision process.


  • Automated tracing
  • Candidate link generation
  • Requirements traceability
  • Secondary measures
  • Vocabulary base

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems


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