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Title: Modelling contracts and workflows for verification and enactment
Author: Farrell, Andrew D. H.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3457 9020
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2008
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The work presented in this thesis concerns some aspects related to the Modelling of Contracts and Workflows for Verification and Enactment. We have sought to gain some insight into the nature of contracts and workflows. in order that we may model them. primarily, for the purposes of verifying certain properties and for enacting them. Workflows help coordinate the enactment of business processes. A notable aspect of workflow technologies is the lack of formal semantics for workflow models. In this thesis, we consider the characterisation of workflow using a number of formal tools, viz. Milner's CCS, Cleaveland et ai's Prioritised CCS (which we abbreviate to PCCS) and the Situation Calculus (thanks mainly to Reiter), which is based on First-Order Logic. Using these, we provide formalisations of production workflows, which are somewhat rigid, inflexible structures, akin to production lines. We do so, in order that we may fiJo: their operational meaning for the purposes of verification and enactment. We define the Liesbet meta-model for production workflow to provide a reference ontology for the task of formalisation. We have also implemented a framework for the verification and enactment of Liesbet workflow models. Regarding verification, we are particularly interested in the key property of soundness, which is concerned with an absence of locking and redundant tasks in a workflow model. Our framework is capable of verifying this property of workflow models, as well as arbitrary temporally-extended constraints', which are constraints whose satisfaction is determined over successive states of enactment of a model. We also consider the definition of more flexible workflows, including collaborative workflows, using an approach that we have conceived called Institutional Workflow Modelling (IWM). The essence of IWM lies (in part) in the identification that the structure of a workflow model necessarily entails the existence of counts as relations. These relations prescribe how the occurrence of certain actions, in the context of a particular workflow model. count as the occurrence of other actions. We have also been interested in the modelling of contracts; and have found IWM to be useful as a foundational basis for contract modelling. Another fundamental aspect of our IWM-based approach is a correspondence, which we have identified, between counts as relations and methods in Hierarchical Task Network (HTN)-based planning. Thus, we are able to advocate the use of an HTN-based planning framework for the verification of flexible workflows and contracts. We have implemented such a framework, whose planner is called Theodore. We define a sjmilar notion of soundness for flexible workflows and contracts, which the Theodore-based framework is able to verify, along with arbitrary temporally extended constraints.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available