Methodology and System for Ontology-Enabled Traceability: Pilot Application to Design and Management of the Washington D.C. Metro System

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This report describes a new methodology and system for satisfying requirements, and an architectural framework for linking discipline-specific dependencies through interaction relationships at the meta-model (or ontology) level. In state-of-the-art traceability mechanisms, requirements are connected directly to design objects. Here, in contrast, we ask the question: What design concept (or family of design concepts) should be applied to satisfy this requirement? Solutions to this question establish links between requirements and design concepts. Then, it is the implementation of these concepts that leads to the design itself. These ideas are prototyped through a Washington DC Metro System requirements-to-design model mockup. The proposed methodology offers several benefits not possible with state-of-the-art procedures. First, procedures for design rule checking may be embedded into design concept nodes, thereby creating a pathway for system validation and verification processes that can be executed early in the systems lifecycle where errors are cheapest and easiest to fix. Second, the proposed model provides a much better big-picture view of relevant design concepts and how they fit together, than is possible with linking of domains at the model level. And finally, the proposed procedures are automatically reusable across families of projects where the ontologies are applicable.