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In their seminal paper in the ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology, Zave and Jackson established a core ontology for requirements engineering (RE) and used it to formulate the "requirements problem", thereby defining what it means to successfully complete RE. Given that stakeholders of the system-to-be communicate the information needed to perform RE, we show that Zave and Jackson's ontology is incomplete. It does not cover all types of basic concerns that the stakeholders communicate. These include beliefs, desires, intentions, and attitudes. In response, we propose a core ontology that covers these concerns and is grounded in sound conceptual foundations resting on a foundational ontology. The new core ontology for RE leads to a new formulation of the requirements problem that extends Zave and Jackson's formulation. We thereby establish new standards for what minimum information should be represented in RE languages and new criteria for determining whether RE has been successfully completed.
Date of Conference: 8-12 Sept. 2008