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Retrospective (from Latin retrospectare, "look back") generally means to take a look back at events that already have taken place. For example, the term is used in medicine, describing a look back at a patient's medical history or lifestyle.
Retrospective compilations are sometimes assembled from an artist's greatest hits.
A retrospective award is one which is created, and then awarded to all persons who would previously have received it. Alternatively, a slight change to the criteria of an existing award may result in retrospective awards being presented to persons who would have won the award under present rules. Comparatively few awards are presented retrospectively.
The term is also used in software engineering, where a retrospective is a meeting held by a project team at the end of a project or process (often after an iteration) to discuss what was successful about the project or time period covered by that retrospective, what could be improved, and how to incorporate the successes and improvements in future iterations or projects. Retrospective can be done in many different ways. The Agile Retrospective Resource Wikiis a resource for sharing retrospective plans, tips & tricks, tools and ideas to help us get the most out of our retrospectives.
In agile development retrospectives play a very important role in iterative and incremental development. At the end of every iteration a retrospective is held to look for ways to improve the process for the next iteration. Scrum call this the Sprint Retrospective.
The term is used in situations where the law is changed, making a previously committed lawful act now unlawful. Sir Stuart Bell used the term "retrospectivity" to describe the Thomas Legg audit of MPs' expenses. Usually the terms ex post facto law or retroactive law are used. An example for a retrospective or retroactive law in force is the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN Code), a convention which governs the formal scientific naming of animals, of which the 4th edition is effective since 2000. All previous editions of the ICZN Code, or previous other rules and conventions have no force any more today, and the scientific names published back in these times are to be evaluated only under the present edition of the ICZN Code.