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Deciding which, among a set of requirements, are to be considered first and in which order is a strategic process in software development. This task is commonly referred to as requirements prioritization. This paper describes a requirements prioritization method called Case-Based Ranking (CBRank), which combines project's stakeholders preferences with requirements ordering approximations computed through machine learning techniques, bringing promising advantages. First, the human effort to input preference information can be reduced, while preserving the accuracy of the final ranking estimates. Second, domain knowledge encoded as partial order relations defined over the requirement attributes can be exploited, thus supporting an adaptive elicitation process. The techniques CBRank rests on and the associated prioritization process are detailed. Empirical evaluations of properties of CBRank are performed on simulated data and compared with a state-of-the-art prioritization method, providing evidence of the method ability to support the management of the tradeoff between elicitation effort and ranking accuracy and to exploit domain knowledge. A case study on a real software project complements these experimental measurements. Finally, a positioning of CBRank with respect to state-of-the-art requirements prioritization methods is proposed, together with a discussion of benefits and limits of the method.
Date of Publication: April 2013