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What is Traceability?

Traceability is the potential to identify data stored within artifacts of some kind, and the ability to examine its relationship. (If something is traceable, you can track where it's been and where it goes?) (Being able to study the path of data, how it travels through a given system?)

CoEst's official definition: "the ability to interrelate any uniquely identifiable software engineering artifact to any other, maintain required links over time, and use the resulting network to answer questions of both the software product and its development process."

Navigable links must be created between artifacts that are otherwise disconnected. Establishing these links can enable a better evaluation of a system. (Is the system doing what it was built to do?)

Components of Traceability

Source Artifact: Where the trace starts.

Trace: The data in question.

Target Artifact: Where the data ends up.



Tracing is often done ad-hoc, after the fact. Since it can be costly to make a system exhaustively traceable, it must be determined what the needs are of the system or stakeholder: what information needs to be tracked?

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