Browse Prior Art Database

Semi-Automated Analysis of Workflows Using Limited Automated Analysis Engine(s) and a Workflow Repository

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000029901D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Jul-16
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Jul-16
Document File: 5 page(s) / 42K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

A workflow is a collection of coordinate activities where each activity can be a manual or automated step. Analysis of workflows (e.g., composition, partner selection, validation) is typically performed by humans and a number of automated techniques are also emerging that can share and reduce the burden of human analysis. However, the available automated analysis techniques only handle limited and simpler cases than those evaluated by human experts. The invention presents a novel solution for the same where in addition to the available limited automated system, a workflow repository is used to save previous analysis by humans and/or system. The key to performance in this scenario is to support search of workflows using a range of effective criteria that balance expressivity of search with its processing time.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
At least one non-text object (such as an image or picture) has been suppressed.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 51% of the total text.

Page 1 of 5

Semi-Automated Analysis of Workflows Using Limited Automated Analysis Engine (s) and a Workflow Repository

Introduction

A workflow is a collection of coordinate activities where each activity can be a manual or automated step. Analysis of workflows (e.g., composition, partner selection, validation) is typically performed by humans and a number of automated techniques are also emerging that can share and reduce the burden of human analysis. However, the available automated analysis techniques only handle limited and simpler cases than those evaluated by human experts. The challenge is to build a workflow analysis system that reduces analysis taken from humans while providing detailed automated analysis support.

The invention presents a novel solution for the same where in addition to the available limited automated system, a workflow repository is used to save previous analysis by humans and/or system. The user can perform the analysis by themselves in the worst case -- therefore, user acceptance of final analysis is necessary for validation.

To ground what we mean by workflow analysis, we will take the example of workflow composition, as seen in web service compositions. But our technique works for other examples of analysis as well -- partner selection, workflow adaptation, etc.

Analysis Example: Workflow Composition

* User issues request to compose BPEL workflows for web service instances

* Limited automated composition methods/engines exist. For example,

- Robust automated planning methods work for sequence and conditional control structures

- Many compilation methods exist if specification of composite workflow is expressed itself as an abstract workflow

- None or very limited for concurrent and cyclic structures User acceptance of composed workflow is must and the user could compose manually, but it would be very tedious.

Solution

The high level system architectutre of our solution is below.

1

Page 2 of 5

1

Composition Spec

Composed Workflow

User or Application

Semi-Automated Workflow

Builder

Interactions with User

2

4

5 3

Automated

Workflow Composer (Restricted)

Note: 2,3,4 will be inter-leaved and potentially invoked repeatedly

A workflow in the database can be searched at various levels. Examples are:

* By Description - Searched by any keyword annotation and subsequent result is manually inspected
* By Syntax - Search on workflow structure, i.e., structural properties
* By Functionality - Search on capability annotations - Reason on operational semantics of workflow specified in a process ontology like MIT Process Handbook

* By Port, Resource, Task, Exception, Attribute concepts
* By Execution Behavior - Reason on execution semantics of workflow

* Scheduling of events, execution traces
* Reason on pairs of workflows - Complement/ partner based on some criteria

To support expressivity at a level, meta-data has to be associated and stored with a workflow that is being recorded in the database, and later retrieved and processed....