Trace queries for safety requirements in high assurance systems

Jane Cleland-Huang, Mats Heimdahl, Jane Huffman Hayes, Robyn Lutz, Patrick Maeder

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

33 Scopus citations


[Context and motivation] Safety critical software systems pervade almost every facet of our lives. We rely on them for safe air and automative travel, healthcare diagnosis and treatment, power generation and distribution, factory robotics, and advanced assistance systems for special-needs consumers. [Question/Problem] Delivering demonstrably safe systems is difficult, so certification and regulatory agencies routinely require full life-cycle traceability to assist in evaluating them. In practice, however, the traceability links provided by software producers are often incomplete, inaccurate, and ineffective for demonstrating software safety. Also, there has been insufficient integration of formal method artifacts into such traceability. [Principal ideas/results] To address these weaknesses we propose a family of reusable traceability queries that serve as a blueprint for traceability in safety critical systems. In particular we present queries that consider formal artifacts, designed to help demonstrate that: 1) identified hazards are addressed in the safety-related requirements, and 2) the safety-related requirements are realized in the implemented system. We model these traceability queries using the Visual Trace Modeling Language, which has been shown to be more intuitive than the defacto SQL standard. [Contribution] Practitioners building safety critical systems can use these trace queries to make their traceability efforts more complete, accurate and effective. This, in turn, can assist in building safer software systems and in demonstrating their adequate handling of hazards.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRequirements Engineering
Subtitle of host publicationFoundation for Software Quality - 18th International Working Conference, REFSQ 2012, Proceedings
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2012
Event18th Working Conference on Requirements Engineering: Foundation for Software Quality, REFSQ 2012 - Essen, Germany
Duration: Mar 19 2012Mar 22 2012

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume7195 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other18th Working Conference on Requirements Engineering: Foundation for Software Quality, REFSQ 2012


  • fault trees
  • formal methods
  • safety critical software
  • traceability
  • visual trace queries


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