Provenance is a term used to describe the lineage, history, or origin of an object. While provenance originated from the art world, it is now becoming increasingly important in the context of digital objects on the World Wide Web. Large scale scientific collaborations and social media platforms on the web have enabled production and sharing of a variety of digital objects on the web. With the proliferation and sharing of such objects, which include documents, pictures, videos, and more, questions such as “where did this object come from?”, “who else is using this object?” and “for what purpose was it generated?” are becoming increasingly common. To ensure that digital objects from different sources can be trusted and used appropriately, it is imperative that the provenance of the digital objects be tracked, recorded, and made available to its users. In this work, we attempt to provide a foundation for understanding provenance, clearly define the semantics of provenance, distinguish provenance from “uses or application” of provenance, suggest a mechanism for managing provenance, and provide important directions for research in provenance management.
Provenance managementSemanticsDigital data provenanceData lineageSemantic Web technologiesData curation