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On the Effectiveness of UML Sequence Diagrams in the Comprehension of Functional Requirements

Modeling is a fundamental activity within the requirements engineering process and concerns the construction of abstract descriptions of requirements that are amenable to interpretation and validation. Empirical evidence about which modeling technique helps to improve the comprehension of functional requirements is needed. This paper presents the results of a family of experiments conducted with students and professionals to investigate whether the comprehension of functional requirements is influenced by the use of dynamic models that are represented by means of UML sequence diagrams. The family contains five experiments performed in different locations and with 112 participants of different abilities and levels of experience with UML. The results show that sequence diagrams improve the comprehension of functional requirements in the case of high ability and more experienced participants.