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Distributed and Parallel Databases

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 651–695 | Cite as

Optimizing data-flow implementations for inter-organizational processes

  • Julius KöpkeEmail author
  • Marco Franceschetti
  • Johann Eder
Open Access
Article

Abstract

Inter-organizational business processes can be designed top-down: starting from a global process model, where each activity and gateway is assigned to one of the participating organizations, local processes (or views/stubs for refinement) are generated for each organization. The resulting inter-organizational process is executed by the local processes in a fully distributed manner. Implementing the data-flow in such a scenario is highly complex, both because of the combinatorial explosion of possible solutions and because of conflicting goals for implementing the data-flow. We present a flexible, heuristic algorithm for implementing the data-flow for inter-organizational processes according to various user preferences, which significantly improves over the base-line approaches proposed so far. The approach is fully implemented and a comprehensive, multi-dimensional evaluation is provided.

Keywords

Inter-organizational business processes Data-flow implementation Inter-organizational workflows Process partitioning Choreography generation 

1 Introduction

Inter-organizational business processes [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11] organize the collaboration of different parties to achieve business objectives. Inter-organizational peer to peer processes, which we study here, are considerably different from intra-organizational processes as the parties are independent and autonomous, only bound to executing the process by contracts, resp. by their interests.

Technically, we can see an inter-organizational process as an ensemble of communicating processes (called local processes) of the different parties. There are different ways to represent and develop inter-organizational processes. One way is to define the interaction between pairs of local processes as protocols. The inter-organizational (or global) process is then an emergent phenomenon - neither directly designed nor controllable. A second approach is that one of the parties dominates (such as in some supply chain processes) and controls and enacts the inter-organizational process. Here the challenges are similar to intra-organizational processes spanning different organizational units. The more general p2p approach to inter-organizational processes, which we follow here, describes an inter-organizational process by means of a process model, which defines as usual the steps (activities and control structures) of a process and assigns each step to one of the partners. The activities, thereby, can be abstract or generic, corresponding to a part of the partners local process. Internals of these local processes are not exposed to the other parties. This general approach has been studied in the past with several approaches such as [3, 7, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16].

Parties in inter-organizational processes are considered independent and autonomous, hence we cannot assume a central coordination of the process. Therefore, the thread of control has to be passed between the parties by explicit exchange of messages. In earlier papers we developed procedures for generating these interaction steps to realize the control-flow between different parties. Therefore, instead of assuming a choreography (e.g. in form of BPMN choreography diagrams [17] or BPMN collaboration diagrams [17]) as input, our aim is to automatically derive choreographies from a global process model.

In this paper we focus on the data-flow. Previous approaches concentrating on the control-flow ignore the data-flow such as [3, 7, 13], assume central databases such as [12], or apply static straightforward strategies for implementing the data-flow via message exchanges [14, 15]. It is our intention to show that there are huge differences in the implementations with respect to some quality criteria, and propose an algorithm which generates good implementations of data-flow with reasonable scalability.

We assume that part of the process description is the definition of the data requirements and the data production of the steps of a process, this means a definition of input and output parameters of each activity. In local processes the management of the data logistics between activities is done by the process enactment service or by access to a common data store. If such a common data store (distributed database, shared cloud services, joint central database, etc.) exists, then the parties can retrieve up-to-date data items from this data store whenever they are required and write the updated values to that data store in the same way as activities read from and write to an enterprise database in intra-organizational processes. Correctness of the data can be ensured by traditional transaction mechanisms. In inter-organizational processes (e.g. complex international trade) the existence of such a common data store cannot be expected and, therefore, we assume here that such a common data store, which can be accessed by all parties, does not exist. We also have to assume that there is no central process enactment service but the process is enacted by local enactment services and the exchange of messages between local enactment services according to the process definition. Therefore, there is no enactment service which can take the role of the data distributor. As a consequence, for the types of true p2p - processes we consider here also the data-flow between the steps of the global process has to be realized by exchanging messages between parties. The major challenge is now to inject messages in the process definition to realize the required data-flow.

In [18], we studied the problem of where to inject which data transferring messages into the definition of an inter-organizational process to derive an ’optimal’ implementation. We showed that starting from a correct implementation of the data-flow we can derive any other correct implementation by a sound and complete set of equivalence transformations. We also argued that there are different objectives to follow for choosing between correct implementations. In principle, this allows to derive the best fitting data-flow implementation using custom objective functions. However, a direct implementation of this approach with heuristic search functions is not feasible for reasonably sized processes, because of the complexity of the problem. In [19] we defined measures for technical qualities of different implementations. These qualities cover the number of interactions or messages, the number of data transmissions and the impact on the complexity of some implementation. We showed how simple implementation strategies (called base-line approaches) optimize one of the measures at the expense of the other measures.

Here we present and evaluate a heuristic algorithm to generate a good data-flow implementation, where good is defined by measures expressing \(\alpha \) the number of necessary messages, \(\beta \) the amount of transmitted data, and \(\gamma \) the increase in collaboration complexity for implementing the data-flow.

The contributions of this paper are the following:
  1. 1.

    We extend and formalize the measures describing qualities of data-flow implementations and discuss implementation classes.

     
  2. 2.

    We introduce a customizable heuristic algorithm for the generation of optimized data-flow implementations for different user-requirements.

     
  3. 3.

    We provide a comprehensive multi-dimensional evaluation of our approach. We have shown that our algorithm achieves on average significantly better measure scores depending on user requirements and we demonstrate that the approach is sufficiently scalable to be feasible for large inter-organizational processes.

     
The remainder of this paper is structured as follows. In Sect. 2, we motivate the problem of implementing inter-organizational data-flow via message exchanges in an example, show that different implementations are possible, discuss the pros and cons of a set of possible implementations. Section 3 formalizes the underlying process model. Section 4 refines measures for assessing data-flow implementations from [19]. Section 5 newly introduces the class of non-redundant augmentations and revisits valuable other classes of data-flow implementations previously proposed in [19]. Section 6 discusses optimization strategies for transitive submissions, lays the formal ground for incrementally computing augmentations and finally introduces a heuristic approach for deriving optimized data-flow implementations for various augmentation classes. Section 7 presents a comprehensive evaluation of our approach against existing base-line strategies. Finally, Sect. 8 discusses related work and Sect. 9 concludes the paper.

2 Preliminaries and motivating example

Our goal is to automatically derive local process models for each organization (actor or partner) participating in an inter-organizational process defined by a global process model. Each such local process model is a view on the actual local process and may be extended and refined, e.g. activities of the global process model may be realized by sub-processes in local process models. The inter-organizational process is then executed in a fully distributed manner by the interplay of the local processes exchanging messages. Since we do not assume a global data store, data-flows crossing organizational borders need to be realized in form of message exchanges.

Our approach consists of 4 phases:
  1. 1.

    Design of a global process model including data-flow specifications of tasks and gateways in form of read and write accesses to case variables.

     
  2. 2.

    Assignment of actors (organizations) to activities and gateways.

     
  3. 3.

    Insertion of communication steps into the global process model for the implementation of inter-organizational data-flow (called augmentation of the global process model).

     
  4. 4.

    Automatic generation of the messages for distributing the control-flow and deriving local process models.

     
In this paper, we focus on phase (3) generating augmentations for implementing the data-flow. Procedures for phase (4), the insertion of messages to implement the distributed control-flow and the generation of local process models, were already proposed in our previous work [13] and are not repeated here.
Augmentations realize the implicit data-flow of the global process model via explicit message exchanges, if organizational boundaries are crossed. E.g. if an activity \(B_b\) of actor b reads a variable y that was modified by a previous activity \(A_a\) executed by an actor a, the value written by \(A_a\) needs to be transmitted to b prior to executing \(B_b\). Message exchanges are included in the augmentation in form of communication steps. A communication step (abcX) specifies that a data item X is transmitted from a sender a to some recipient b if condition c holds. Communication steps, however, abstract from the communication mode (push/pull, synchronous/asynchronous).
Fig. 1

Example process

2.1 Example

Figure 1 shows an example of a global inter-organizational process where actors (organizations) are assigned for each task and gateway. Clearly, actor assignment is a design-time definition referring to types of actors rather than concrete entities. We denote the actor (organization) in charge for executing a task or a gateway in square brackets after the node label. The inter-organizational global process is executed by a general practitioner GP, a diagnosis institute DI, a rehabilitation specialist R, an insurance company I and an accounting office AO. First a general practitioner GP requests additional examinations. Then two streams of actions are performed in parallel (any order): a magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) examination is performed by a diagnosis institute DI in task A2 and an assessment of the fitness of the patient is performed by a rehabilitation specialist R in task A4. After each examination an invoice is created by an accounting office AO in tasks A3 and A5. Following the par-join, the general practitioner GP writes an application for a rehabilitation in task A6. Next, the insurance company I decides on the application in task A7. If the case is approved, the rehabilitation is started by the rehabilitation specialist R in task A8. Otherwise the general practitioner GP discusses alternative options to the patient in task A9.

In the example, three data objects (D1 to D3) are modeled. D1 are MRT images created by A2. It is potentially a very large data object. D2 is a report of the fitness derived by the rehabilitation specialist in task A4. D3 is an application for rehabilitation created by the general practitioner in task A6. Other data objects such as invoices are not modeled since they are not relevant for the future steps of the process or they might be sent as physical documents and are therefore out of scope of this paper, where only electronic data-exchange is addressed. The input and output data of tasks from Fig. 1 implicitly encodes the data-flow between the tasks. In the example, we use the usual BPMN notation for input (non black arrow) and output (black arrow) documents. We only need to address data-flow that crosses organizational boundaries. All such data-flows need to be realized via messages. We show the required cross-organizational data-flows (DF1 to DF5) in the upper part of Fig. 2 as dotted lines from the source or producer (last activity writing to some variable) to each task that potentially requires the data value.
Fig. 2

Example process from Fig. 1 with cross-organizational data-flow (dotted lines)

2.2 Base-line approaches

We have presented and evaluated existing approaches for the implementation of cross-organizational data-flows via message exchanges in [19].

Figure 2 shows 4 different augmentations for the example process in Fig. 1. We represent communication steps similar to BPMN choreography tasks. They are represented as rounded boxes, where the origin of the data transmissions is denoted on the top of the box and the receiving partner is denoted on the bottom of the box. The transmitted variables (data objects) are denoted in the middle. We now briefly discuss each approach based on the example.

B1: data-flow follows control-flow In the data-flow follows control-flow approach, communication steps are restricted to existing control-flow edges between different participants of the global process. If there is an edge between 2 activities assigned to different partners, the implementation of the control-flow will generate a message from the partner executing the first activity to the partner executing the second activity. Therefore, a communication step sending a message from participant a to participant b can only be placed between two nodes \(A_a\), \(B_b\) executed by a and b if there is a control-flow edge \((A_a\), \(B_b)\) in the global process. This strategy (Base-line B1) is implicitly assumed in approaches that abstract from the data-flow perspective [3, 7, 13].

Augmentation 1 in Fig. 2 follows this approach. It uses 6 communication steps. Trivially, all of them can be included in control-flow messages. Therefore, no additional interactions are required for implementing the data-flow. The augmentation contains 7 transmissions of data elements (variables), of which 6 are executed unconditionally, one (in the xor-block) is executed conditionally. It can be seen as an advantage, that no additional interactions are required. However, Augmentation 1 transmits the MRT image D1 via the accounting office AO and the insurance company I to the rehabilitation specialist R. This causes multiple transmissions of potentially large data objects compared to direct transmissions. Even more importantly, there may be confidentiality issues since neither the accounting office nor the insurance company execute any step that requires the MRT images.

B2: direct late send Data is sent from the activity that last updated the data element (origin) to the activity requiring the data at the latest possible point in time. Following this approach, a data-flow message can only be included in a control-flow message, if the task requiring the data is a direct successor of the origin task in the global process. A variant of this base-line approach is applied in [15].

Augmentation 2 in Fig. 2 shows an augmentation following this approach. It requires a total of 5 communication steps. One communication step is conditionally executed, three communication steps require additional message exchanges, because the payload cannot be integrated into control-flow messages. We depict these steps in grey. Notably, in Augmentation 2 D1 will only be transmitted to the rehabilitation specialist, if the rehabilitation is granted by the insurance company. Therefore, there are no confidentiality issues. However, the local process of the diagnosis institute gets more complex. In Augmentation 1, the diagnosis institute only needs to know that it is called by the general practitioner and that after doing the examination, data needs to be forwarded to the accounting office. When ’late send’ is implemented, the diagnosis institute becomes actually part of the xor-block. This also means that the xor-block needs to be included in the local process of the diagnosis institute.

B3: direct early send In this approach, whenever a producer writes some data item, it is immediately distributed to each partner potentially needing this data item. This base-line approach is proposed in [20, 21].

Augmentation 3 of Fig. 2 follows this strategy. The solution uses 5 unconditional communication steps. Three communication steps require additional interactions as they cannot be integrated into control-flow messages. Most notably, the transmission of the MRT images to the rehabilitation specialist is performed unconditionally. Therefore, even if the rehabilitation is not granted by the insurance company, the rehabilitation specialist will receive the MRT images. This adds not needed data transmissions at runtime and also imposes confidentiality concerns. On the positive side, the diagnosis institute does not need to know about later decisions (as for B2) and it does not get involved in the xor-block as it was the case for B2.

2.3 Discussion

We discuss the base-line approaches in three aspects: (1) the number of additional message exchanges generated for implementing the data-flow, (2) the number of transmissions of data items (corresponding to bandwidth requirements), and (3) the additional complexity of the local processes. The base-line approaches B1 and B2 have quite distinct strengths and weaknesses. B1 requires no additional messages for implementing the data-flow. Therefore it does not require additional interactions and thus has no impact on the coupling between participants. Additionally it does not increase the complexity of the resulting local processes. However, data may be transmitted over and over again leading to high amounts of transmissions and to confidentiality concerns. In contrast, B2 transmits data only if it is certainly needed by the recipient. As a result it provides minimal bandwidth requirements and does not impose any confidentiality concerns. However, communication steps can only be piggy-packed with the control-flow in specific cases. Therefore, additional interactions are required for implementing the data-flow which also increases the coupling between participants as well as the complexity of local processes since decisions in the control-flow need to be respected for realizing the cross-organizational data-flow. B3 has the same behavior as B2 in terms of additional interactions, as the data-flow cannot always be included in the control-flow. It requires less data transmissions than B1 but more than B2 since all participants who may potentially need some data will receive it. Regarding additional complexity of local processes, B3 performs better in our example as future decisions have no impact on the sender. However, in case of activities that write to data variables conditionally, similar effects occur: the receiver may need to know about earlier decisions and may need to include additional xor-gateways in its local process.

In summary, the base-line approaches typically are good in one aspect, but at the cost of the other aspects. The research question for us was now: can we find a better solution? Augmentation 4 in Fig. 2 does not strictly follow one of the base-lines. It requires a total number of 5 communication steps, where one is conditional. Three communication steps can be included in the control-flow. Most notably, by transmitting D2 from the accounting office to the general practitioner, one additional transmission can be included in the control-flow compared to Augmentation 2. This does not impose confidentiality concerns or additional data transmissions because the accounting office also needs D2. Following B2, always the participant, who last updated some data object, has to send it to each consumer. This requires the diagnosis institute to become part of the xor-block in Augmentation 2. We avoid this problem in Augmentation 4 by sending D1 from the general practitioner to the rehabilitation specialist. This provides an overall advantage since the general practitioner is already part of the xor-block and she requires the MRT images anyhow.

Our approach for improvement starts with generating augmentations like Augmentation 4 minimizing the number of additional messages and the amount of transmitted variables, while reducing the negative impact on the complexity of the local processes.

Notably, all augmentations in the example contain only required communication steps, i.e. removing any communication step would result in an augmentation that does not correctly implement the implicit data-flow of the global process. As a counter-example a simpler implementation of B1 would forward all data objects via every control-flow edge of the global process and only apply specific rules at parallel-join gateways. Such a solution is trivially correct but contains redundant data transmissions. In this paper we are interested in finding augmentations that are non-redundant.

2.4 On finding ‘optimal’ implementations

The base-line approaches shown above apply static strategies that may result in suboptimal solutions. A possibility to automatically obtain optimal data-flow implementations is to apply an exhaustive search employing some objective function to select the best solution for the given user requirements. All potential correct solutions can be generated with the equivalence transformations presented in [18] and the objective function can be composed of the measures for augmentations proposed in [19]. However, this approach does not scale, since the size of the search space explodes with the number of actors and with the number of xor-gateways in the process. Preliminary experiments showed that this approach does not even scale for comparatively small process models. We now informally motivate why an exhaustive search is not feasible.

Given a sequential process containing some activity \(A1_{P1}\) writing to a variable x and some later executed activity \(An_{Pn}\) reading the value of x produced by \(A1_{P1}\). A communication step transmitting x directly from P1 to Pn can be placed at any position between \(A1_{P1}\) and \(An_{Pn}\). Having 10 nodes of different actors in-between this results in 9 different solutions. Additionally, the data may be routed indirectly over any subset of the other actors in any sort order. This results in an exponential growth by the number of actors. For each such subset of actors all permutations of actors are possible. Assuming m actors in one such subset of actors already results in m! solutions. Each such transitive transmission may be implemented with steps distributed over any of the positions between \(A1_{P1}\) and \(An_{Pn}\). Additionally, process models are not limited to sequences. When there are xor-gateways between \(A1_{P1}\) and \(An_{Pn}\), then this already exponentially large number of potential solutions grows again exponentially by the number of xor-gateways between \(A1_{P1}\) and \(An_{Pn}\).

Since a search for an optimal solution for arbitrary objective functions is not feasible, we provide a heuristic algorithm for finding good solutions for various user requirements.

2.5 Research goals, assumptions, and limitations

The goal of the research reported here was to develop an algorithm for the generation of optimal implementations of the data-flow for inter-organizational p2p processes described in simple process models.

The following assumptions and limitations apply:
  • The processes are peer2peer processes without any central coordination.

  • There is no joint data store, the processes act on a ‘shared nothing’ architecture.

  • The processes are defined in a simple process model consisting of activities connected with the core set of control patterns and augmented with actors and data parameters.

  • The objective for the optimization is to minimize the amount of required messages and data transfers without unduly increase the complexity of the local processes.

All the rest of the paper should be considered with these assumptions and limitations. In particular, when we say ‘better’ or ‘optimal’ this is always with respect to the objective stated above. The assumption of a ‘shared nothing’ architecture follows the observation that many parties can be involved in an inter-organizational business process and that the requirements for participating in an inter-organizational process should be as low as possible. We cannot think of lower assumptions than being able to receive and send messages.

3 Process model

3.1 Global process model

We consider here an inter-organizational process model1 based on the standard minimum workflow control patterns [22]: full blocked acyclic workflow nets. In a nutshell: the process model consists of nodes and edges, where the nodes are activities, communication steps, or control steps (and-split/-join, xor-split/join), and the edges express a precedence relationship [22, 23]. We chose block-structured workflow nets to avoid the typical problems of unstructured business processes that manipulate data [24] which are even more severe in an inter-organizational setting. We present the process model from [18, 19] here to be self-contained but we newly extend it with labels to provide a formal concise basis for the following sections.

Nodes are assigned to the parties of an inter-organizational collaboration for execution. Activities read and/or write variables. xor-split nodes read boolean decision variables. Communication steps are used for the transfer of control and for the transmission of data (variables) between parties. We first introduce the global process model, where data is exchanged via variables and then present an augmented process model where the implicit data-flow between different actors (organizations) is implemented via communication steps.

There are basically two possibilities for representing and evaluating the condition of an xor-split in inter-organizational process models [18]: (1) The condition is not defined in the global process, or (2) the condition is defined using some global variables. In case (1), the participant who is in charge of the xor-split takes the decision (probably involving local variables) and informs the other parties of the result, if necessary. In case (2) each participant receives all variables appearing in the condition to make the decision (i.e. evaluate the condition) locally. This may result in additional communication overhead. For simplicity and clarity, we follow a combination of (1) and (2): each xor-split has a unique boolean decision variable. One of the actors is in charge to compute this decision variable and communicate it to the other parties, which need to know it so that they can execute the xor-split locally. This strategy also conforms to the recent OMG Decision Model and Notation DMN, where specific decision tasks are used to evaluate decisions prior to conditional gateways.

Parallel execution may raise race conditions, which in a non-distributed setting can be solved by using a transactional data store. Since for inter-organizational processes we do not assume that all parties have access to a distributed transactional data store, we do not allow parallel read-write and write-write dependencies between variables. Consequently, data-flow dependencies may only exist between activities connected by control-flow dependencies expressed in the edges of the process model.

Definition 1

(Global process model) A global process model\(P=(N,E,V,A)\) with a set of nodes N connected by a set of directed edges E with set of variables V and a set of parties (actors) A forms a directed acyclic graph. For each node n we define n.type the type (activity | xor-split | xor-join | and-split | and-join), n.name the name of the node, \(n.v^r \subseteq V\), the set of variables read and \(n.v^w \subseteq V\), the set of variables written, and \(n.a \in A\), the actor executing the node.

Each edge \((m, n) \in E\), \(m, n \in N,\) describes a precedence constraint between nodes m and n. There is one node without predecessor, called start node and one node without successor called stop node. \(n.succ = \{m | (n, m) \in E\}\) and \(n.pred = \{m | (m, n) \in E\}\) represent the successors, resp. predecessors of a node. \(n.succ+\) and \(n.pred+\) represent the transitive closure of the successor and predecessor relation. In order to access successors or predecessors on a specific sub graph sg of P, we write \(n.succ_{sg}+\) or \(n.pred_{sg}+\). xor-split nodes and and-split nodes have exactly 2 successors, xor-join and and-join have exactly 2 predecessors.

\(D \subset V\) is a set of boolean decision variables. Each xor-split node x is associated with a unique decision variable \(d \in D\). One of the outgoing edges of an xor-split is adorned with d, the other with \(\lnot d\).

The process model is full blocked, i.e. each split node is associated with exactly 1 join node such that each path originating in the split node to the end node includes the associated join node. \(\square \)

In the remainder of the paper we use the usual object-style dot notation to access components of a process model. E.g. for a process \(P=(N,E,V,A)\), we address the set of edges via P.E.

3.2 Labels

We interpret the decision variables as propositional letters. Let \(d \in D\) be a decision variable. The literal d represents that the decision variable is true and \(\lnot d\) that it is false. A minterm over d is a conjunction of literals which contains for each \(d \in D\) either d or \(\lnot d\).

We use propositional labels for nodes to indicate through which path a node can be reached. We define a label as a conjunction of decisions which lead to the considered node.

Definition 2

(Propositional terms) Let \(\varDelta \) be a set of propositional letters, let \(\wedge \), \(\vee \), \(\lnot \), \(\rightarrow \) be the propositional conjunction, disjunction, negation and implication, respectively. Let \(\delta \in \varDelta \): then \(\delta \) and \(\lnot \delta \) are literals, \( {\bar{\varDelta }}\) is the set of all literals over \(\varDelta \). Let \(\delta _1, \ldots \delta _n\) be literals, then \(\delta _1 \wedge \ldots \wedge \delta _n\) are conjunctive terms. We call \(\mu \) a minterm over a set of letters \(\varDelta \), if \(\mu \) is a conjunctive term over \(\varDelta \) and for each \(\delta \in \varDelta \) either \(\delta \) or \(\lnot \delta \) appears in \(\mu \). \(M\)\((\varDelta )\) is the set of all minterms over \(\varDelta \). Let \(\mu , \mu '\) be conjunctive terms. We define the intersection of \(\mu \) and \(\mu '\) as the conjunction of all literals which appear both in \(\mu \) and \(\mu '\): \(\mu \cap \mu ' = \delta _1, \wedge \ldots \wedge \delta _n, \delta _i \in \{\delta \in {\bar{\varDelta }}, \mu \rightarrow \delta , \mu ' \rightarrow \delta \}\).

We define the size of a conjunctive term as the number of distinct literals it is composed of. Formally, let \(D \subset V\) be the set of boolean decision variables. Then \(size(\delta ) = |\{d \in D| \delta \rightarrow d \vee \delta \rightarrow \lnot d\}\)\(\square \)

Definition 3

(Labels) Let \(P=(N,E,V,A)\) be a process model, and \(D \subset V\) be the set of boolean decision variables of P. \(n.\lambda \) assigns a unique propositional letter \(d \in D\) to each xor-split node \(n \in N\). For each xor-split node x there are two outgoing edges \(e_1\) and \(e_2\) in E with \(e_1.\delta =x.\lambda \) and \(e_2.\delta =\lnot x.\lambda \). All other edges have the label true.

The label \(n.\varLambda \) of a node n is defined as
  1. 1.

    \(n.\varLambda = \{true\}\), if n is a start node;

     
  2. 2.

    \(n.\varLambda = x.\varLambda \wedge (x,n).\delta \), if \((x,n) \in E\) and x is an xor-split node;

     
  3. 3.

    \(n.\varLambda = m_1.\varLambda \cap m_2.\varLambda \), if n is an xor-join node and \((m_1,n)\), \((m_2,n)\)\(\in \)E;

     
  4. 4.

    \(n.\varLambda = m.\varLambda \), if \((m,n)\in E \) for any other node. \(\square \)

     

Example 1

(Example of labels) In Fig. 3 a global process with labels for each node is shown. \(A1_{P1}\) is unconditionally executed and has the label true. \(A2_{P2}\) is conditionally executed if the true branch of the xor-split is taken and therefore has the label d1. In analogy, \(A3_{P3}\) has the label \(\lnot d1\). Finally, \(A4_{P4}\) is unconditionally executed and has the label true. Note that the calculation of labels in Definition 3 (3) implies that the label of a node does not include propositional terms of previous xor-blocks. Accordingly, the label of \(A4_{P4}\) is true.\(\square \)

Fig. 3

Example global process with labels and two implementations (augmented processes)

3.3 Augmented process model

Data exchange between different parties is implemented via communication steps. A process model with communication steps (a data-flow implementation) is called an augmented process model.

Definition 4

(Augmented process model) An augmented process model\(M=(N,E,\)VA) is a process model where nodes may also be of type s (communication step). For a communication step \(s=(a,r,c,X)\)\(a \in A\) represents the sender, \(\;r \in A\) the receiver of a message which is sent under the condition c and transfers the variables \(X \in {\mathcal {P}}(V)\), where c is a propositional term over the decision variables \(D \subset V\) given in disjoint disjunctive normal form such that \(c \rightarrow s.\varLambda \). \(\square \)

During the generation of local process models for each participants, communication steps are either inserted as send steps in the local process of the sender and as receive steps in the local process of the receiver or they are realized as request steps in the local process of the receiver and as response steps in the local process of the sender. When an augmented process model with multiple actors is projected [13] to process models for each actor, additional message exchanges for handing over the control-flow are added to the process model. This paper focuses on message exchanges for data-flow and leaves the partitioning of the control-flow to the partitioning phase [13].

Definition 5

(Instance type) Each minterm I over the set of decision variables D of a process P with start node s and end node e constitutes an instance type\(P^I\) which is defined as a connected subgraph of P which includes s and e where each xor-split node has exactly one successor and each xor-join has exactly one predecessor (depending on the value of the decision variable). \(\square \)

Example In Fig. 3, we have two instance types constituted by the minterms d1 and \(\lnot \)d1 over the decision variable d1: \(A1_{P1}\), \(A2_{P2}\), \(A1_{P4}\) for d1 and \(A1_{P1}\), \(A2_{P3}\), \(A1_{P4}\) for \(\lnot \)d1.

The definition of an instance type does not directly correspond to valid runs or instances of a process as multiple instance types can specify the same run or process instance. The reason is that decision variables of non-executed gateways are not relevant since they have no influence on the selected branches of executed gateways.

In the augmented model data are transmitted from one actor to another by means of the communication steps. There is no global data store. For analyzing the correctness of an augmentation, we consider the distributed execution of the process and the execution by only one actor. Informally, an augmentation is correct, if the data seen by each activity in both executions is the same.

The origin of a variable x of a node n in an instance type I is the closest predecessor of n in \(P^I\) which writes x. For every instance type, each input variable of each activity must have a single origin (task writing to that variable).

Definition 6

(Origin) The origin for an input variable x of a node n in an instance type \(P^I\), denoted \(o(P^I,n,x)\), is defined as a node m such that there exists a path p in \(P^I\) containing n and m and there is no step \(m'\) with x as output variable between n and m in p.

Formally, \(o(P^I,n,x)= m\) iff \(m \in n.pred_{P^I}+ \wedge \{m, n\} \subseteq P^I \wedge x \in m.w \wedge \forall m' \in n.pred_{P^I}+ : m' \in P^I \wedge x \in m.w \wedge m \in m'.succ_{P^I}+\). \(\square \)

Definition 7

(Correct process model) A process model \(P=(N,E,V,A)\) is correct, iff for each instantiation I of decision variables, for each input variable \(x \in V\) of each activity node \(n \in N\): \(o(P^I,n,x)\) exists and is unique. \(\square \)

This requirement covers the usual data-flow faults [25] like uninitialized variables and race conditions. In particular, we do not allow read-write or write-write dependencies between parallel tasks.

For the distributed execution of an augmented process we have to consider that a participant only can access the content of a variable if it was produced locally or if it was received through a communication step. The distributed origin thus traverses the graph along the communication steps to identify the last writer.

Definition 8

(Distributed origin) The distributed origin of the input variable x in node n of an instance type \(P^I\), \(o^d(P^I,n,x) = m\), is defined as follows: Let a be the actor or sender of n and let m be the closest predecessor step of n, where \(n.type=activity\)-step or \((n.type=communication\)-\(step \wedge I \rightarrow n.c)\) with x as output parameter and a as actor (for activity steps) or recipient (for communication steps). If m is an activity step then \(o^d(P^I,n,x) = m\), if m is a communication step \(s=(b,a,c,X)\) then \(o^d(P^I,n,x)\)=\(o^d(P^I,m,x)\). \(\square \)

The recursive definition of the distributed origin allows to directly receive a variable from the origin or to receive a variable transitively via multiple communication steps. However, the distributed origin is always an activity step with x as output. We can now define the correctness of an augmentation.

Definition 9

(Correct augmentation) The augmentation P of a process is correct, iff for each instantiation I of decision variables, for each input variable x of each activity node \(n \in N\): \(o(P^I,n,x)\) exists and is unique and \(o^d(P^I,n,x)\) = \(o(P^I,n,x)\). \(\square \)

Example 2

(Correct augmentation) Augmentation 1 in Fig. 3 is correct. There are the following instance types: \(A1_{P1}\), \(send1=(P1,P4,\{\},\{x\})\), \(A2_{P2}\), \(send2=(P1,P4,\{d1\},\)\(\{x\})\), \(A1_{P4}\) for the minterm d1 and \(A1_{P1}\), \(send1=(P1,P4,\{\},\{x\})\), \(A2_{P3}\), \(A1_{P4}\) for the minterm \(\lnot d1\). The distributed origin of x for \(A4_{P4}\) for the minterm d1 is \(A2_{P2}\), the distributed origin of x for \(A4_{P4}\) for the minterm \(\lnot d1\) is \(A1_{P1}\). This trivially equals the origin in the global process model. It is therefore a correct augmentation.\(\square \)

4 Measures for augmentations

As motivated in Sect. 2.3 we assess augmentations based on the perspectives of additional message exchanges or interactions for implementing the data-flow, the overall amount of data transmissions, and the impact on the complexity of local processes. We have already introduced measures that provide indications for each perspective in [19]. In this section, we revisit and refine the measures \(\alpha \), \(\beta \) and \(\gamma \) for augmentations. In particular, we refine the measures based on the extended process model including labels newly introduced in this paper.

We have emphasized in Sect. 2.1 that it makes a difference whether some data transmission is executed in all cases or only in specific cases during runtime. Conditional communication steps will contribute less to the overall number of sent messages or transmitted variables at runtime. In order to provide a combined measure of conditional and non-conditional communication steps we introduce the weight function. It approximates the probability that a communication step is executed. Since we have no knowledge about branching probabilities, we assume that the probability of each outgoing branch of a xor-split is 50%.2 For efficiently calculating the weight, we use the size of labels of communication steps.

Definition 10

(Weight of a communication step) Let sr be a communication step of some augmentation P. Let C(sr.c) be the set of all conjunctive terms in sr.c.
$$\begin{aligned} weight(sr) =\sum _{c \in C(sr.c)} 2^{-size(c)} \end{aligned}$$
\(\square \)

Example 3

(Weight of a communication step) The weight of the communication step send1 of Augmentation 1 in Fig. 3 is \(2^{-|\{\}|}=1\). It is executed unconditionally. In contrast, the weight of send2 of the same augmentation is \(2^{-|\{d1\}|} = 0.5\). It is executed in 50% of all instance types. In the same way, the weight of send1 in Augmentation 2 is \(2^{-|\{d1\}|}\). send1 is not part of the xor-block but it has d in its condition. Therefore, its weight is also 0.5. \(\square \)

4.1 Assessing the number of additional messages of a data-flow implementation

As shown in Sect. 2.3 one important criteria of an augmentation is the number of additional messages or interactions that are needed for realizing the cross-organizational data-flow. This property is assessed by the \(\alpha \) measure.

In the later partitioning phase every edge (mn) of the global process model, where the actor of m (m.a) is not equal to the actor of n (n.a) results in a message exchange between m.a and n.a for realizing the cross-organizational control-flow. When communication steps are placed between m and n in an augmentation of the global process, these steps can only be included in the control-flow message, if the sender is the actor of m and the receiver is the actor of n. Otherwise additional interactions are required for each such communication step. In particular, if either the sender is the actor of m or the receiver is the actor of n, exactly one additional interaction is required for each such communication step (assuming send-receive style interactions if m.a is the sender and request-response style interactions if n.a is the receiver). This property holds for all classes of augmentations relevant for this paper. We now define when a communication step can be included in a control-flow message.

Definition 11

(Includable communication stepincludable(c)) Let c be a communication step of an augmentation. Let p1 be the actor of the closest non-communication step in \(c.pred+\). Let p2 be the actor of the closest non-communication step in \(c.succ+\). \(includable(c)=c.a\)\(=\)p1 \(\wedge \)c.r\(=\)p2

The alpha measure is the weighted sum of all communication steps that will require additional interactions:

Definition 12

(Measure\(\alpha \)) Let \(P=(N,E,V,A)\) be an augmentation. Let \(NI=\{n : n \in P.N \wedge \)\(\lnot includable(c)\}\) be the set of all communication steps that cannot be included in the control-flow.
$$\begin{aligned} \alpha (P) = \sum _{s \in NI} weight(s) \end{aligned}$$

Example 4

(Measure\(\alpha \)) For Augmentation 1 in Fig. 2 we get an \(\alpha \) value of 0.0 since the payload of all communication steps can be included in control-flow messages between participants. For Augmentation 2 in Fig. 2 we get an \(\alpha \) value of \( 1+1+0.5= 2.5\) since there are two unconditional communication steps and one conditional communication step which do not follow the control-flow. For Augmentation 4 in Fig. 2 we get an \(\alpha \) value of \(1+0.5=1.5\).\(\square \)

4.2 Assessing the amount of data transmissions

Another important aspect of an augmentation is the total number of data transmissions. It provides an estimate on potential bandwidth requirements while still abstracting from actual sizes of data objects. For the \(\beta \)-measure all communication steps are of interest. It is defined as the weighted sum of all variable transmissions.

Definition 13

(Measure\(\beta \)) Let \(P=(N,E,V,A)\) be an augmentation. Let S be the set of communication steps in P.N.
$$\begin{aligned} \beta (P) =\sum _{s \in S} weight(s)*|s.X| \end{aligned}$$
\(\square \)

Example 5

(Measure\(\beta \)) Augmentation 1 in Fig. 2 contains 5 unconditional communication steps with a total of 6 transmissions and one conditional communication step transmitting one variable. The overall \(\beta \) value is 6+0.5=6.5. Regarding the Augmentation 2 in Fig. 2, there are 4 unconditional communication steps with a total of 4 variable transmissions and one conditional communication step sending one variable. The overall \(\beta \) value is 4+0.5=4.5.\(\square \)

4.3 Assessing collaboration complexity

An augmentation has an impact on the number of decision variables required by each participant. We assume that the more decisions a partner needs only for correctly executing the data-flow, the more complex his local process will get. We use the \(\gamma \) value as an indicator for this additional complexity of local processes imposed by the augmentation. It is defined as the total number of decision variables needed by all actors for the augmentations and for the control-flow minus the total number of decision variables needed by all actors for the control-flow only. \(\gamma \) counts the overall number of additional decision variables for an augmentation of all actors.

Definition 14

(Measure\(\gamma \)) Let \(P=(N,E,V,A)\) be an inter-organizational process, let \(P'=(N,E,V,A)\) bet a correct augmentation of P.

Let reqVar(Pra) be a function assigning the actor a of the process Pr to a set of propositional letters that a requires to participate in the process Pr. An actor requires a propositional letter \(\delta \)\(\in \)\(\varDelta \) if he is the actor, receiver or sender of at least one node n in Pr.N, where the label of n, \(n.\lambda \) contains \(\delta \) or if he is the actor or receiver of some communication step sr, where the simplified boolean formula of sr.c contains \(\delta \).
$$\begin{aligned} \gamma (P) =\sum _{p' \in P'.A} |reqVar(p',P')| - \sum _{p \in P.A} |reqVar(p,P)| \end{aligned}$$
\(\square \)

Example 6

(Measure\(\gamma \)) For Augmentation 1 in Fig. 2 the \(\gamma \)-value is 0 since no partner needs an additional decision to execute the communication steps. For Augmentation 2 in Fig. 2, the \(\gamma \) value is 1 since the diagnosis institute gets part of the xor-block only for transmitting data to the rehabilitation specialist.\(\square \)

5 Classes of augmentations

While there exist very large numbers of correct augmentations for inter-organizational processes, we are specifically interested in augmentations that obey certain properties. In Sect. 5.1 we revisit safeness-classes of augmentations based on the principle of information hiding. Another quality criteria for augmentations is the absence of obsolete transmissions. We define this class formally in Sect. 5.2.

5.1 Safeness classes of augmentations

For being self-contained we revisit safeness-classes for augmentations initially introduced in [19] here. In our motivating example in Fig. 2 some augmentations impose confidentiality issues. In Augmentation 1 the insurance company and the accounting office receive the MRT image only to forward it to other participants. In Augmentation 3, the rehabilitation specialist receives the MRT image even if the rehabilitation is not approved by the insurance. Both circumstances may impose non-acceptable confidentiality issues depending on user requirements. We now define different classes of augmentations that provide different levels of confidentiality.

Let s be a communication step where sender a sends a variable v with origin o to recipient r. We distinguish three spheres of variables: an actor is in the static sphere of the variable v, if he writes to or reads this variable anywhere in the process definition. An actor is in the weak dynamic sphere of v, if he reads the variable v with origin o in any step of the process reachable from s. An actor is in the strong dynamic sphere, if it is certain that in any continuation of the process he will read the variable v with origin o.

Definition 15

(Static sphere) Let \(B'=(N,E,V,A)\) be an augmentation, let \(sr=(a,r,c,X)\)\(\in \)\(B'.N\) be a communication step, let v be a variable in sr.X. The receiving actor r of sr is in the static sphere of v iff there exists a node n\(\in \)\(B'.N\) where \(n.type=activity\) and \(n.a=r\) and v\(\in \)\(n.v^r\). \(\square \) .

Definition 16

(Weak dynamic sphere) Let \(B'=(N,E,V,A)\) be an augmentation, let \(sr=(a,r,c,X)\)\(\in \)\(B'.N\) be a communication step, let v be a variable in sr.X with origin o. Let \(AI_{sr}\) bet the set of all instance types of \(B'\) containing sr. The receiving actor r of sr is in the weak dynamic sphere of v iff at least one instance type \(P^I\)\(\in \)\(AI_{sr}\) contains some node n\(\in \)\(B'.N\), where \(n.type=activity\) and \(n.a=r\) and v\(\in \)\(n.v^r\) and \(o(P^I,n,v)= o\) and n is a direct or transitive successor of sr. \(\square \)

Definition 17

(Strong dynamic sphere) Let \(B'=(N,E,V,A)\) be an augmentation, let \(sr=(a,r,c,X)\)\(\in \)\(B'.N\) be a communication step, let v be a variable in sr.X with origin o. Let \(AI_{sr}\) bet the set of all instance types of \(B'\) containing sr. The receiving actor r of sr is in the strong dynamic sphere of v iff every instance type \(P^I\)\(\in \)\(AI_{sr}\) contains some node n\(\in \)\(B'.N\), where \(n.type=activity\) and \(n.a=r\) and v\(\in \)\(n.v^r\) and \(o(P^I,n,v)= o\) and n is a direct or transitive successor of sr. \(\square \)

We use these definitions of spheres to define classes of augmentations:

Definition 18

(Statically safe augmentation) An augmentation is statically safe, iff for every communication step, the receiver is in the static sphere of the transmitted variable.\(\square \)

Definition 19

(Weak dynamically safe augmentation) An augmentation is weak dynamically safe, iff for every communication step, the receiver is in the weak dynamic sphere of the transmitted variable.\(\square \)

Definition 20

(Strong dynamically safe augmentation) An augmentation is strong dynamically safe, iff for every communication step, the receiver is in the strong dynamic sphere of the transmitted variable.\(\square \)

Example 7

(Safeness classes) Augmentation 1 in Fig. 2 is not statically safe. The accounting office receives the MRT image but it does not execute any activity reading it. Augmentation 3 in Fig. 2 is weak dynamically safe but it is not strong dynamically safe because the rehabilitation specialist receives the MRT image even if the rehabilitation is not approved by the insurance. Augmentation 2 and 4 in Fig. 2 are strong-dynamically safe. Only participants that certainly require some data value get access to it.\(\square \)

5.2 Non-redundant augmentation

As already discussed in in Sect. 2.3 augmentations should not contain message exchanges that do not contribute to implement the cross-organizational data-flow. We now define the class of non-redundant augmentations formally. We first define a canonical form for augmentations.

Definition 21

(Augmentation in canonical form) An augmentation P is in canonical form, if every communication step sr in P.N has the following form: \(|sr.X|<2\) and sr.c is not a disjunction of terms.

Every augmentation can be transformed to an augmentation in canonical form by splitting every communication step with more than one variable to separate communication steps for each variable (equivalence transformation rule TS5 in [18]) and splitting every communication step into one for each member of the disjunctions of its condition (TS6 in [18]).

Definition 22

(Redundant transmission) Let P be an augmentation and \(P'=(N,E,\)VA) be the canonical form of P. Let \(sr=(a,r,c,X)\) be a communication step in \(P'.N\). sr is redundant, iff removing sr from \(P'\) still leads to a correct augmentation. \(\square \)

Definition 23

(Non-redundant augmentation) An augmentation \(P'\) is non-redundant, iff there exists no redundant transmission in \(P'\).\(\square \)

From Definitions 22 and 9 follows that there are two cases of redundant transmissions: redundancies due to the absence of reading activities and redundancies due to double transmissions of the same data values.

No-reader redundancies occur, if a value transmitted by a communication step is never read by some succeeding activity-step.

Definition 24

(No-reader redundancy) Let P be an augmentation and \(P'=(N,E,\)VA) be the canonical form of P. Let sr be a communication step in \(P'.N\). Let PI be the set of all instance types of \(P'\) containing sr such that sr.c evaluates to true. sr causes a no-reader redundancy, if there exists no instance type \(P^I\) in PI containing some activity step r in \(sr.succ+\) and \(o^d(P^I,sr,v)=o^d(P^I,r,v)\) and sr directly or indirectly transmits v to r in \(P^I\).\(\square \)

In order to define double transmission redundancies, we first define, when an actor at some step is in the possession of some variable:

Definition 25

(Actor in possession of a variable at step) An actor p is in possession of some variable v under condition c at some step r, where p is an actor or receiver of r, iff for every instance type \(P^I\) containing r that is permissible by c: \(o^d(P^I,r,v) = o(P^I,r,v)\) holds. The predicate inPos(pvcr) returns true iff p is in possession of v under condition c. \(\square \)

Definition 26

(Double-transmission redundancy) Let P be an augmentation and \(P'=(N,E,V,A)\) be the canonical form of P. A communication step sr\(\in \)\(P'.N\) with \(sr.X=\{v\}\) is redundant, iff for every instance type \(P^I\) containing sr such that \(I \rightarrow sr.c\) and \(o(P^I,sr,v)= m\), there exists a node n, where n\(\in \)\(m.succ+\)\(\wedge \)n\(\in \)\(sr.pred+\) and n has sr.r as actor or receiver and sr.r is in possession of v at step n under condition sr.c. \(\square \)

Example 8

(Redundant transmissions) Fig. 4 shows a global process with 4 activities executed by 3 different actors. First, variable x and y are updated by \(A1_{P1}\). Then \(A2_{P2}\) reads both variables. Later \(A3_{P3}\) and \(A4_{P2}\) read x. In the naive implementation (Augmentation 1), every variable is transmitted on every inter-actor control-flow edge. The solution contains multiple redundant transmissions: sending y from P2 to P3 causes a no-reader redundancy (see Definition 24). Sending x (and y) from P3 to P2 is redundant according to Definition 26 since P2 is already in the possession of x. Augmentation 2 is an alternative, non-redundant augmentation for the same input process.\(\square \)

Note that double transmission redundancies can occur on a single path between origin and reader in a process model like in Fig. 4 but they can also occur due to communication steps of different paths, if the process model contains parallel gateways. An example is shown in Fig. 6. If the variable x is transferred from A1 to A5 by inserting communication steps in path 3, then an additional augmentation of any other path leads to double transmission redundancies.
Fig. 4

Redundant versus non-redundant augmentation of a process

6 A heuristic approach for generating augmentations

Existing base-line strategies for augmentations optimize only one of the measures but have a negative impact on other measures [19]. The data-flow follows control-flow strategy produces augmentations with an \(\alpha \) measure of 0. However, such augmentations have the penalty of very high \(\beta \) measures and they cannot generally obey the safeness classes. The direct-send strategies B2 and B3 produce augmentations with low \(\beta \) measures but these augmentations suffer from high \(\alpha \) and \(\gamma \) measures. It is therefore beneficial to apply a flexible strategy. This may lead to augmentations such as augmentation 4 in Fig. 2.

We have therefore designed a heuristic approach which is guided by the measures. It was designed with the following objectives:
  • Generation of non-redundant augmentations (see Sect. 5.2).

  • Support for all safeness classes (see Sect. 5.1).

  • Generation of solutions that optimize the \(\alpha \) and \(\beta \) measures while limiting negative effects on the \(\gamma \) measure.

  • Feasible performance for large classes of real world inter-organizational processes.

The requirement for feasibility for large classes of real-world inter-organizational processes does not allow to perform an exhaustive search over the solution space defined by [18]. Therefore, we have developed a heuristic approach that aims at an optimized integration of the data-flow into the control-flow to reduce the \(\alpha \) and \(\beta \) values. If such a solution is not possible due to the required safeness class for a specific transfer, a variant of late-send that improves the \(\gamma \) value is applied.

The approach generates augmentations in two steps. First a pre-solution in canonical form is generated by incrementally augmenting the required paths between origins and their readers. In a second step further optimizations using a subset of the rules from [18] are applied. We first informally discuss optimizations of the data-flow follows control-flow approach in Sect. 6.1. We then introduce the required formalization of our approach and proof that the incremental application of augmentations leads to correct and non-redundant augmentations in Sect. 6.2. Finally, we present the whole approach in Sect. 6.3.

6.1 Optimizing data-flow follows control-flow

A straightforward implementation of the data-flow follows the control-flow base-line approach is correct but not optimal with regard to the \(\alpha \) and \(\beta \) measures due to two sources of redundancies: (a) No-reader redundancies (see Definition 24), and (b) Double-transmission redundancies (see Definition 26).

6.1.1 Optimizations on single paths

In a purely sequential process, a straightforward implementation of the data-flow follows control-flow approach results in redundant transmissions, if one actor is assigned to at least two steps that are not directly preceding between some origin o and some reader r. We refer to this effect as the existence of tunnels between different steps of the same actor. On the one hand redundancies should be avoided and on the other hand tunnels provide room for optimizations.
Fig. 5

a Straightforward data-flow follows control-flow, b tunnel via P3 c tunnel via P2

Example 9

(Tunneling) Fig. 5 shows three augmentation of a sequential process. The first step \(A1_{P1}\) writes to variable x and only the last step \(A4_{P2}\) reads x. In the straightforward implementation (a), x is forwarded via every control-flow edge. Therefore, actors P3 and P2 receive the same variable (values) twice. Alternative augmentations are (b) requiring 3 communication steps (\(\alpha '=3\), \(\beta =3\)) and exploiting the tunnel of P3 and augmentation (c) requiring only 2 communication steps (\(\alpha =2\), \(\beta =2\)) exploiting the tunnel of P2. It is important to note that augmentations (b) and (c) are both non-redundant. \(\square \)

Obviously, an advanced data-flow follows control-flow approach should make use of tunnels to optimize the \(\beta \) value. Tunnels do not only occur on completely sequential processes. In case of xor-gateways, multiple different paths exist where each path may contain tunnels. In the absence of parallel gateways, clearly each paths between origin and reader needs to be augmented to obtain a correct augmentation.

6.1.2 Influence of parallel gateways

For processes containing parallel gateways, additional room for improvements but also additional restrictions on the paths that may be augmented exist. Parallel gateways may lead to additional redundancies of straightforward data-flow follows control-flow implementations. The general problem is that if the data-flow is routed over one branch of par-split and par-join nodes, then an additional routing over the other branch is redundant.

Example 10

(Influence of parallel gateways) Figure 6 shows an example, where an augmentation is required between the origin \(A1_{P1}\) and the reader \(A5_{P5}\). There are the following paths between \(A1_{P1}\) and \(A5_{P5}\): p1=(A1, ps1, xs1, A2, xj1, pj1, A5), p2=(A1, ps1, xs1, A3, xj1, pj1, A5), (p3=A1, ps1, A4, pj1, A5). A straightforward implementation forwards the data over each path. However, if the data is routed via p3, then an additional routing via p1 or p2 is redundant since \(A5_{P5}\) is already in the possession of the data of \(A1_{P1}\). When routing via p1 and p2, then an additional routing via p3 is redundant. \(\square \)

Fig. 6

Example of a process model with 2 augmentation candidates

The correctness criteria for data-flow requires that the origin of some variable and some reader in some instance type is always unique. This has also consequences on the computation of augmentations. We present the phenomena based on an example. We now assume that \(A2_{P2}\) in Fig. 6 also writes to x. Since the origin must be unique for each instance type for the reader \(A5_{P5}\), the path \((A1_{P1}\), \(ps1_{P6}\), \(A4_{P4}\), \(pj1_{P7}\), \(A5_{P5})\) must not be used to forward x from P1 to P5 since the value of x is potentially updated in the other branch of ps1.

An augmentation procedure must only augment paths which do not lead to non-unique origins and as discussed earlier, it should avoid double transmission redundancies due to parallel gateways. Finally, it should use potential tunnels for optimization.

6.2 Formalization

We now introduce the necessary formalization of our approach and then prove the correctness and non-redundance of the generated augmentations. Our algorithm is based on incrementally adding augmentations for all required paths between origins and readers. We refer to such paths as AugmentationPaths:

Definition 27

(Augmentation path) Given an augmentation \(P'\) for a process P (including \(P' = P\)).

An augmentation path \(path(P',o,r,v,c)\) is a path in form of a subgraph of the Augmentation \(P'\) for some variable \(v \in P'.V\), an activity \(o\in P'.N\) writing to v (\(v \in o.w\)), and an activity \(r\in P'.N\) reading v (\(v\in r.r\)) where there is no other activity writing to v in-between and \(r.a \ne o.a\). The condition c of the path \(p'\) is the conjunction of all labels of all non-communication-steps in the path.

Formally, \(path(P',o,r,v,c)\) is a connected subgraph \(p'\) of \(P'\) such that:
  • \(o.pred=\emptyset \)\(\wedge \)\(r.succ=\emptyset \)\(\wedge \)\(\forall n \in p'.N {\setminus } \{o,r\} : |n.succ| = 1 \wedge |n.pred|=1\);

  • \(\forall n \in p'.N {\setminus } \{o,r\} : n.type=activity \Rightarrow v \notin n.w\);

  • \(c = \bigwedge \{n.\varLambda : n \in p'.N \wedge n.type \ne communication-step\}\).\(\square \)

We have already informally discussed the influence of parallel gateways on the paths which may be augmented to obtain a correct augmentation of the process in Sect. 6.1.2. We now define the set AugmentationCandidates as the set of all augmentation paths that can be augmented to obtain a correct augmentation of a process. Basically, an augmentation path p1 with origin o1 is in the set of augmentation candidates if there is no other augmentation path p2 with origin o2 and the same reader and variable where o2 is a predecessor of o1 and the process model permits a parallel instantiation of both paths.

Definition 28

(Augmentation candidates) The set of all augmentation candidates \(AC_{P}\) of a process P with correct data-flow is defined as follows:
$$\begin{aligned}&AC_{P} = \{p1 : p1=path(P,o1,r,v,c) \wedge \not \exists p2\\&\quad =path(P,o2,r,v,c2) : o2 \in o1.succ_P+\\&\quad \quad \wedge o1 \ne o2 \wedge (p1.c \rightarrow p2.c \vee p2.c \rightarrow p1.c) \} \end{aligned}$$
\(\square \)

The solution space for the augmentations following the control-flow of some augmentation path is expressed by the AugmentationGraph.

Definition 29

(Augmentation graph AUG) Given a process P, an Augmentation \(P'\) of P and an augmentation path \(p=path(P',o,r,v,c)\).

The augmentation graph \(AUG=(N,E,o,r,p,v)\) is a directed weighted graph, where the set of nodes is N\(\subseteq \)\(\{n : n \in p.N \wedge n.type \ne communication\)-\(step\}\). E is the set of weighted edges. An edge (abw) is in E, iff one of the following conditions holds:
  1. 1.

    b is in possession of v:\(a=o \wedge inPos(b.a,v,c,b)\). The weight of the edge, w is 0.0.

     
  2. 2.

    There is a tunnel between a and b:\(a.a=b.a\)\(\wedge \)\(a \in b.pred_{p}+\). The weight of the edge, w is 0.0.

     
  3. 3.

    A communication step between a and b is allowed: Let \(c'\) be the condition of a potential communication step between a and b defined as \(c' = \bigwedge \{t.\varLambda : t \in (o.succ+\)\(\cap \)\(b.pred+) \cup \{o,b\} \wedge t.type \ne communication\)-\(step\}\). Let \(X = \{x : x \in b.succ+\)\(\wedge \)\(x.a=b.a \wedge \not \exists w \in (x.pred+\)\(\cap \)\(b.succ+) : v \in w.w \}\).

    A communication step between a and b is allowed, iff all of the following conditions hold:
    1. (1)

      a and b are assigned to different actors \((a.a \ne b.a);\)

       
    2. (2)

      a is a direct predecessor of b in P and sending v from a to b under condition \(c'\) complies with the given safeness class;

       
    3. (3)

      \(\not \exists \) \(x \in X : inPos(x.a,v,c' \wedge x.\varLambda , x).\)

       
    Iff all 3 conditions hold, (abw) is in E, where w is the weight of a potential communication step between a and b in P with condition \(c'\) (given in Disjoint Disjunctive Normal Form). \(\square \)
     

Every path from o to r with a minimal number of edges with weight w\(> 0\) in AUG determines a transitive augmentation solution.

Definition 30

(Transitive augmentation solution) Given an augmentation graph \(AUG=(N,E,o,r,p',v)\) for an augmentation path \(p'=path(P',o,r,v,c)\). Let \(p_{sol}\) be a path from o to r in AUG in form of a connected subgraph of AUG where the number of edges with weight w\(>0\) is minimal.
  • If \(p_{sol}\) does not exist, then there exists no transitive augmentation solution for \(p'\) in \(P'\).

  • Otherwise, the augmentation solution sol for \(p'\) is derived by adding communication steps to sol for every edge in \(p_{sol}.E\) where the weight is \(> 0\). The condition of each added communication-step is the conjunction of the step labels of all previous non-communication-steps in \(p'\).

    Formally, sol is derived from \(p'\) by applying the following rule:
    $$\begin{aligned}&\forall (m,n,w) \in p_{sol}.E : w > 0 \Rightarrow \exists s \in sol.N : \\&s.pred_{sol}=\{m\} \wedge s.succ_{sol}=\{n\} \wedge m.succ_{sol}=\{s\} \wedge n.pred_{sol}=\{s\} \\&\wedge s.type =communication-step \wedge s.X = \{v\} \wedge s.a = m.a \wedge s.r = n.a \wedge \\&s.c = \bigwedge \{t.\varLambda : t \in s.pred_{p'}+ \cup \{s\} \wedge t.type \ne {communication{\text{- }}step}\} \end{aligned}$$
    \(\square \)

Clearly, an augmentation solution can be equivalent to the augmentation path if r is already in the possession of v. Transitive augmentation solutions represent optimized variants of (base-line B1).

If no transitive solution exists for some path, we apply a direct augmentation solution as a variant of late-send (base-line B2) for this path. However, in contrast to B2, any actor of a step who is already in possession of the variable can act as a sender.

Definition 31

(Direct augmentation solution) Given an augmentation path \(p'=path(P',o,r,v,c)\). Let O be the set of all actors who can act as senders of the variable: \(O=\{s.a : s \in p'.N \wedge s.type \ne communication\)-\(step \wedge inPos(s.a,v,c,s)\}\).
  • If r.a\(\in \)O then the augmentation solution \(sol = p'\).

  • Otherwise: let \(se \in O\); let cs be some node where \(cs.type=communication\)-\(step \wedge cs.a = se \wedge cs.r = r.a \wedge cs.X=\{v\} \wedge cs.c = c\).

    The solution sol is derived from \(p'\) by applying the following rule: \(\exists m \in r.pred \Rightarrow m.succ_{sol} = \{cs\} \wedge r.pred_{sol} = \{cs\}\).\(\square \)

Note that a direct augmentation solution always exists since the origin is trivially in possession of the variable.

Definition 32

(Augmentation solution) Let \(sol(p,P',v)\) be a function returning either one transitive or one direct augmentation solution for the augmentation path p of \(P'\), and variable v.\(\square \)

Definition 33

(Application of an augmentation solution) Given an augmentation \(G'\), an augmentation path \(p'\) of \(G'\) and an augmentation solution sol for \(p'\). The application of sol to \(G'\), denoted as \((G',sol)\) leads to a new augmentation \(G''\) that contains all the added communication steps of sol.

Formally, \((G',sol) \leadsto G'' : G''.N = G'.N\)\(\cup \)\(sol.N \wedge G''.E = G'.E\)\({\setminus }\)\(p'.E\)\(\cup \)sol.E.\(\square \)

Definition 34

(Correct augmentation of a path) Given a process P, an augmentation \(P'\) of P and an augmentation path \(p'=path(P',o,r,v,c)\).

The path \(p'\) is correctly augmented in \(P'\) for variable v\((correct(p',P',v))\) if for all instantiations of decision variables \(I_1, \ldots I_n\) of \(P'\) such that \(I_i\)\(\rightarrow \)c the following holds: \(o(P^{I_i},r,v) = o^d(P^{I_i},r,v) = w\).\(\square \)

Definition 35

(Projection of an augmentation path) Given an augmentation \(G'\) and augmentation path p in \(G'\).

The projection \(\pi (p)\) of p is an augmentation path \(p'\) containing no communication steps such that all nodes in \(p'\) have the same topological order as in p.\(\square \)

Obviously, let P be a process model, \(P'\) be an augmentation of P, p be an augmentation path in \(P'\), then \(\pi (p)\) is a subgraph of P.

We now postulate that the application of any augmentation solution for some augmentation path p in an initial augmentation (with no communication steps inserted yet) will result in the correct augmentation of the path in the derived augmentation.

Theorem 1

(Correctness of initial augmentation solution) Let P be a process; let \(AC_P\) be the set of augmentation candidates of P. Let v\(\in \)P.V; let \(p=path(P,o,r,v,c) \in AC_P\); let \(sol=sol(p,P,v).\)
$$\begin{aligned} (P,sol) \leadsto P' \Rightarrow correct(p,P',v) \end{aligned}$$

Proof 1

Let \(S = sol.N {\setminus } p.N\); let AUG be the augmentation graph for P and p.

Case 1sol is a direct augmentation solution.

By Definition 31, \(|S| = 1 \wedge \exists s \in S : c \rightarrow s.c\)\(\wedge \)\(s.a = o\). Therefore, for every instantiation \(P^I o^d(P^I,r,v)=o(P^I,r,v)=o \Rightarrow correct(p,P',v)\).

Case 2sol is a transitive augmentation solution.

We prove by contradiction. Suppose \((P,sol) \leadsto P' \Rightarrow \lnot correct(p,P',v)\). Therefore, there exists no path sg from o to r in form of a connected sub-graph of AUG such that \(\forall (n,m,w) \in sg.E\) with \(w > 0 : \exists s \in S: (n,s) \in sol.E \wedge (s,m) \in sol.E \wedge c \rightarrow sg.c\). This contradicts with Definition 30.\(\square \)

We now postulate that the application of any further augmentation solution for some augmentation path leads to a correct augmentation of that path and renders no previously existing solution incorrect.

Theorem 2

(Non-interfering augmentations) Let p1 and p2 be any augmentation paths of a process and sol1 and sol2 be the corresponding augmentation solutions. If applying sol1 and sol2 in isolation leads to correct augmentations of p1 and p2, also any incremental application will lead to a correct augmentation of p1 and p2. Formally, given a Process P, an Augmentation \(P'\) of P, a variable \(v \in P.V\) and the set of all augmentation candidates \(AC_P\).

Let \(\{p1, p2\} \subset AC_P : p1=path(P',o1,r1,v,c1) \wedge p2=path(P',o2,r2,v,c2)\);

let \(sol1=sol(p1,P',v)\); let \(sol2=sol(p2,P',v)\).

\((P',sol1) \leadsto P1' \wedge correct(sol1,P1',v) \wedge (P',sol2) \leadsto P2' \wedge correct(sol2,P2',v)\)

\(\Rightarrow \)

Let \(p21=path(P1',o2,r2,v,c2) : \pi (p21) = \pi (sol2)\); let \(sol21=sol(p21,P1',v)\).

\((P1',sol21) \leadsto P1'' \wedge correct(sol21,P1'',v) \wedge \exists p11=path(P1'',o1,r1,v,c1) :\)

\(\pi (p11) = \pi (sol1) \wedge \exists sol11=sol(p11,P1'',v) \wedge correct(sol11,P1'',v). \).\(\square \)

Proof 2

We have to consider the following cases:
  1. 1.

    \(o1=o2\).

    We prove by contradiction. Let \(r \in \{r1,r2\}\). Assume that there exists some \(I: o^d(P1''^I,r,v) \ne o(P1''^I,r,v)\). From Definition 33 follows \(\forall s \in sol1.N : \exists s \in sol21.N\) (no steps are removed). From \(correct(sol1,P1',v)\) follows \(\exists s \in sol21.N {\setminus } P1'.N : o^d(P1''^I,s,v) \ne o1\).

    Case 1.1sol21 is a transitive augmentation solution. Let AUG be the augmentation graph for \(P1'\) and p21; let n be the closest predecessor of s in \(P1''\) where \(n.type \ne communication\)-step; let m be the closest successor of s in \(P1''\) where \(n.type \ne communication\)-step. From Definition 30 follows: \(\exists (n,m,w) \in AUG.E : w > 0\). This contradicts with Definition 29.

    Case 1.2sol21 is a direct augmentation solution. \(o^d(P1''^I,r,v) \ne o1\) directly contradicts with Definition 31.

     
  2. 2.

    \(o1 \ne o2\)\(\wedge \)\(r1 = r2\).

    We prove by contradiction. Let N1, N2 be the sets of communication steps for sol1, resp. sol21 : \(N1 = sol1 {\setminus } \pi (sol1)\); \(N2 = sol21 {\setminus } \pi (sol21) {\setminus } sol1\). For an interference between sol1 and sol21 there must be a communication step transmitting v which is executed when o1 is the origin and if o2 is the origin.
    $$\begin{aligned} \exists s \in N1 \cup N2: v \in s.X \wedge (o1.\varLambda \rightarrow s.c) \wedge (o2.\varLambda \rightarrow s.c) \end{aligned}$$
    Case 2.1\(o1.\varLambda \nrightarrow o2.\varLambda \wedge o2.\varLambda \nrightarrow o1.\varLambda \). From Definitions 30, 31 directly follows: \(\forall (n1,n2) \in N1 \times N2 : v \in n1.X \wedge v \in n2.X \Rightarrow n1.c \wedge n2.c = false\). Therefore, s cannot exist. Case 2.2\(o1.\varLambda \rightarrow o2.\varLambda \vee o2.\varLambda \rightarrow o1.\varLambda \). \(\exists (n1,n2) \in N1 \times N2 : v \in n1.X \wedge v \in n2.X \wedge (n1.c \rightarrow n2.c \vee n2.c \rightarrow n1.c).\) From Definitions 30, 31, 28 follows \(\pi (sol21) \notin AC_P \vee \pi (sol1) \notin AC_P\). Therefore, s cannot exist.
     
  3. 3.

    \(o1 \ne o2\)\(\wedge \)\(r1 \ne r2\).

    Case 3.1\(p1.N \cap p2.N = \emptyset \). From Definition 33 follows that \(sol21=sol2\) and sol2 is a subgraph of \(P2'\) and sol1 is a subgraph of \(P1''\).
    $$\begin{aligned}&correct(sol1,P1',v) \wedge correct(sol2,P2',v) \Rightarrow \\&correct(sol1,P1'',v) \wedge correct(sol2,P1'',v) \end{aligned}$$
    Case 3.2\(p1.N \cap p2.N \ne \emptyset \). Case 3.2a\(o1.\varLambda \nrightarrow o2.\varLambda \wedge o2.\varLambda \nrightarrow o1.\varLambda \): see Case 2.1 Case 3.2b\(o1.\varLambda \rightarrow o2.\varLambda \vee o2.\varLambda \rightarrow o1.\varLambda \): see Case 2.2 \(\square \)
     

We have shown that the incremental application of augmentation solutions to two paths leads to correct augmentations for these paths without invalidating the previous solution. We now postulate that the incremental application of augmentation solutions of every augmentation candidate in a process leads to a correct augmentation for the process.

Theorem 3

(Correct incremental augmentation of a process) Let P be a process model; let \(AC_P\) be the set of augmentation candidates of P.

Let \(p_1=path(P,o_1,r_1,v_1,c_1), \dots , p_n=path(P,o_n,r_n,v_n,c_n)\) be all augmentation paths in \(AC_P\). \((P,sol(p_1,P,v_1)) \leadsto P_1', \dots , (P_{n-1},sol(p_n,P_{n-1}',v_n)) \leadsto P_n'\)

Then \(P_n'\) is a correct augmentation of P.\(\square \)

Proof 3

\(P_1'\) is correct (see Theorem 1). Subsequent incremental applications of augmentation solutions do not interfere (see Theorem 2). The set \(AC_P\) covers all paths for all readers, origins and variables as required by Definition 9. \(\square \)

We now postulate that the incremental application of augmentation solutions in a topological order of the readers to a process model results in a non-redundant augmentation of that process model.

Theorem 4

(Non-redundant augmentation solution) Let P be a process model; let \(AC_P\) be the set of augmentation candidates of P.

Let \(p_1=path(P,o_1,r_1,v_1,c_1), \dots , p_n=path(P,o_n,r_n,v_n,c_n)\) be all augmentation paths in \(AC_P\), topologically ordered by \(r_i\) in P.
$$\begin{aligned} (P,sol(p_1,P,v1)) \leadsto P_1', \dots , (P_{n-1},sol(p_n,P_{n-1}',vn)) \leadsto P_n'. \end{aligned}$$
Then \(P_n'\) is a non-redundant augmentation of P.\(\square \)

Proof 4

We prove by contradiction.

We assume there exists some solution \(redsol=sol(p_m,P_{m-1},v_m)\) for some augmentation path \(p_m=path(P'_{m-1},o_m,r_m,v_m,c_m)\) introducing redundancies. Let NS be the set of newly added communication steps in redsol: \(NS = redsol.N {\setminus } P'_{m-1}.N.\)

Case 1 Some newly introduced step ns is redundant.
$$\begin{aligned}&\exists ns \in NS \wedge \exists pred \in ns.pred_{redsol}+ : pred.a \\&\quad = ns.r \wedge inPos(pred.a,v_m,c_m,pred) \end{aligned}$$
Case 1.1redsolis a transitive solution

Let \(AUG_m\) be the augmentation graph of \(p_m\) and \(v_m\) for augmentation \(P'_{m-1}\); let \(p_{AUG}\) be the path from o to r in \(AUG_m\) that has led to redsol; let la be the closest non-communication-step in \(ns.pred_{redsol}+\); let ra be the closest non-communication-step in \(ns.succ_{redsol}+\). From \(ns \in P'_{m}.N\) follows: \(\exists p2_{AUG}\) as a subgraph of \(AUG_m\) such that: \((\forall (a,b,w) \in p_{AUG}.E : a \ne la \wedge b \ne ra : \exists (a,b,w) \in p2_{AUG}.E) \wedge (\exists (la,ra,0) \in p2_{AUG}.E) \wedge (\forall (a,b,w) \in p2_{AUG}.E : a \ne la \wedge b \ne ra : \exists (a,b,w) \in p_{AUG}.E)\)

\(|\{(a,b,w) \in p2_{AUG}.E : w> 0\}| < |\{(a,b,w) \in p_{AUG}.E : w > 0\}|\)

By Definition 30redsol cannot exist since \(p2_{AUG}\) has less edges with weight \(> 0\) than \(p_{AUG}\) and an augmentation solution is defined by a shortest path in the augmentation graph.

Case 1.2 redsol is a direct solution

If ns is redundant, then \(inPos(r_m.a,v_m,c_m,r_m)\) holds in \(P'_{m-1}.\) By Definition 31redsol cannot exist.

Case 2.1 Some step s\(\in \)NS renders a step rs\(\in s.succ+\) redundant and redsol is a transitive solution. Let \(X = \{x : x \in s.succ+ \wedge x.a=s.r \wedge \not \exists w \in x.pred+\)\(\cap \)\(s.succ+ : v \in w.w \}\). Therefore \(rs \in X \wedge inPos(rs.a,m_v,s.c \wedge rs.\varLambda , rs)\) holds in \(P'_{m-1}\). This contradicts with Requirement 3 of Definition 29. Thus, redsol cannot exist.

Case 2.2 Some step s\(\in \)NS renders a step rs\(\in s.succ+\) redundant and redsol is a direct solution. \(rs.a = r_m.a \wedge rs \in r_m.succ\). Since augmentation is realized in a topological order \(inPos(r_m.a,v_m,c_m,r_m)\) also holds in \(P'_{m-1}\). Therefore, redsol cannot exist.

6.3 Algorithm

We have shown that an incremental augmentation of all augmentation candidates of a process leads to a correct and non-redundant augmentation of the process. We have designed an algorithm that is based on incrementally calculating and applying transitive and direct augmentation solutions for each augmentation path. Since there may exist multiple transitive and multiple direct solutions for each augmentation path and there is some freedom in selecting the paths for augmentation (as discussed in Sect. 6.1.2), additional optimizations are possible.

For finding an optimal transitive solution for one single augmentation path, a solution with a minimal \(\beta \) value should be chosen. However, when incrementally computing augmentations for all paths between some origin and some reader, augmentations of single augmentation paths are not independent from each other. Therefore, the order in which the different paths are augmented has an impact on the overall result. Clearly, obtaining an optimized overall solution for a combination of one origin and one reader could be realized by computing augmentations for every order of paths between the origin and the reader. Since the number of paths grows exponentially with the number of gateways between origin and reader, such an approach is not feasible.

Our aim is to develop a feasible algorithm. Therefore, we apply heuristics. For augmenting single augmentation paths, we select a transitive solution (with \(\alpha =0\)) that has a minimal \(\gamma \) value. By definition, transitive solutions contain a minimal possible number of communication steps. If a solution with \(\alpha =0\) does not exist, we apply a direct augmentation solution with a minimal \(\gamma \) value.

By implementing solutions with minimal numbers of communication steps and a minimum \(\gamma \) value we guarantee non-redundant solutions and we try to avoid solutions where additional actors need to know from control-flow decisions. This also implies that we favor solutions with more general conditions on communication-steps. Therefore, more steps are in the possession of variables. This is beneficial for the augmentation of future paths since it allows for reuse.

For computing a solution for all paths between some origin and some reader, we implement paths first that potentially have an \(\alpha =0\) score and potentially require a minimal number of communication steps. If multiple such solutions exist, the one with the minimal \(\gamma \) score is implemented first.

For tuning purposes, we exclude paths from the augmentation which are in conflict with already inserted ones. This allows to reduce the number of required augmentations without always computing the augmentation graph. Basically, if there is an augmentation for one branch of a parallel block, then an augmentation for a path that includes the other branch is not required as the reader is already in the possession of the variable.

Definition 36

(Conflicting path) Let P be the set of all augmentation paths in a process graph between the origin o and the reader r. The path p1 \(\in \)P is in conflict with the path p2 \(\in \)P iff:
$$\begin{aligned} \exists s1 \in p1.N, \exists s2 \in p2.N : s1.type=and-join \wedge s1=s2 \wedge s1.pred \ne s2.pred \end{aligned}$$

After the general principles of the augmentation method are introduced we can now provide the algorithm. For augmenting a process, we incrementally augment single augmentation paths between origins and readers. The computation of an augmentation solution for a single path is presented in Sect. 6.3.1. The augmentation of a process is discussed in Sect. 6.3.2.

6.3.1 Computing an augmentation solution for a single path

We illustrate the basic approach of finding an augmentation solution of a single augmentation path. We discuss a non-optimized variant to emphasize on the essentials of the approach. It calculates a transitive or direct augmentation solution adhering to the safeness class mode for a single path p in a process model P between the origin o and the reader r for variable v. The safeness-class may be none for no restriction, ssa for statically safe (see Definition 18), wds for weak dynamically safe (see Definition 19) and sds for strong dynamically safe (see Definition 20).

In a first step, the algorithm checks if r is already in the possession of v with origin o for the current condition c using checkPosession(orvcPinPos) (see Definition 25). If yes, no augmentation is required and the path p is returned as an empty solution. In our implementation checkPosession(orvcPinPos) is efficiently implemented by querying a lookup table inPos(ovsr). The table is incrementally populated during the insertion of communication steps (see Sect. 6.3.2 for details).

If r is not in the possession of v, an augmentation solution that follows the control-flow with minimal \(\beta \) value is calculated by the function getBestTransitiveAugmentation(...). It calculates all transitive augmentation solutions according to Definition 30 and returns a solution with the minimal \(\gamma \) value. If no transitive solution exists, all direct augmentation solutions are computed according to Definition 31 with the procedure getAllDirectAugmentations(). Obviously, multiple such solutions can exist, since multiple partners participating in the path can be in possession of the variable. We choose one solution for which the influence on the \(\gamma \) measure is minimal.

6.3.2 Computing an augmentation of a process

After having discussed the augmentation of a single augmentation path, we now present how an augmentation for an entire process is obtained by incrementally augmenting paths. The basic principle is shown in Algorithm 2.

In a first step, the set of all augmentation candidates is computed (according to Definition 28) and stored in the relation oR containing tuples of the form (r, v, c, o, p). Each tuple represents that o is an origin of activity r for variable v, if the path p from o to r is executed. The condition c is the condition of the path (see Definition 27).

Then all nodes reading from variables of the input process P are traversed in a topological order. For each reader r, the algorithm iterates over every variable v read by r and every origin o of v for r. For every combination of reader r, origin o and variable v all paths between o and r are obtained from oR and one solution candidate is computed for every path using Algorithm 1. All solutions are stored in the set CAND. These solutions are not yet implemented in the augmentation and they are used as an estimate for the costs for their individual implementation.

While the set of candidate solutions CAND is not empty, a solution mySol in CAND is chosen. We choose a solution with the minimum \(\alpha \) value that requires the minimum number of communication steps. If multiple such solutions exist, one with the minimal \(\gamma \) value is chosen.

Then the selected solution mySol is recomputed in order to take all communication steps that were previously implemented into account. The application of the solution to the augmentation according to Definition 33 is realized by the method implementSolution(sol,o,v,P,inPos). The method gets the solution sol, the origin o, the variable v, the process P and the inPos relations as input. It inserts the required communication steps of sol to the process P and updates the inPos relation. For updating inPos, it adds one tuple (ovsr) for every inserted communication step sr. Finally, mySol and all paths in CAND that are in conflict (see Definition 36) with mySol are removed from CAND.

As a postprocessing step, the equivalence transformation rules from [18] are applied to provide further optimizations. Most importantly, multiple communication steps with equivalent senders and receivers and equivalent variables are merged to single communication steps with a condition that is a disjunction of the conditions of the merged nodes (Rule TS6). Additionally, communication steps with the same actors and same conditions but different variables are merged (Rule TS5) and communication steps are re-arranged using rule TS1b.

6.3.3 Properties of the algorithm

Theorem 5

(Soundness) Every augmentation \(P'\) of an input process with correct data-flow P generated by Algorithm 2 is correct according to Definition 9.

Proof 5

In the first phase, the algorithm incrementally applies augmentation solutions for all Augmentation Candidates (see Definition 28) of the process where an augmentation is required. The resulting pre-solution is correct according to Theorem 3. The second phase of the algorithm (line 28) optimizes the correct augmentation produced in the first phase by applying equivalence transformations, which are proven to be correct [18].

Theorem 6

(Non-redundant augmentations) Every augmentation \(P'\) of an input process with correct data-flow P provided by Algorithm 2 is non-redundant (see Definition 23)

Proof 6

The proof directly follows from Theorem 4.

Theorem 7

(Compliance with safeness classes) Every augmentation \(P'\) of any input process with correct data-flow P provided by Algorithm 2 complies with the given safeness class.

Proof 7

The proof follows directly from the definition of the augmentation graph (Definition 29) and the definition of transitive augmentations (Definition 30). The augmentation graph does by definition not contain edges with weight > 0 that are not allowed by the safeness class. Therefore, no solution can contain communication steps that do not adhere to the safeness class. Direct augmentation solutions (see Definition 31) are trivially strong dynamically safe. The applied transformation rules TS1b, TS5 and TS6 do not change the receivers of variables.

7 Evaluation

We have performed a comprehensive evaluation of our heuristic algorithm in order to assess the following evaluation goals.
  • EG1 How do the generated solutions of the heuristic approach compete with the base-line approaches [19] in terms of measure scores?

  • EG2 How do the dimensions topology, size, number of actors, number of activities reading from and writing to variables influence the achievable measure scores?

  • EG3 Does the approach scale to provide reasonable performance for relevant classes of real world processes?

7.1 Data-set

For assessing EG1, we have evaluated all operation modes (fully transitive (H-UN), static needs (H-SN), weak dynamic (H-WDN) and strong dynamic (H-SDN)) of our heuristic approach against the base-line approaches fully transitive (B1), direct late send (B2) and direct early send (B3) [19]. We used a data-set containing 22,500 process models. It allows us to evaluate the influence of the size and topology of process models, the number of actors, the number of activities reading from and writing to variables on the achievable measure scores (evaluation goals EG2 and EG3). The data-set is composed of three top-level classes small, medium and large (see Table 1 for details). For each process class, there are 10 randomly generated process topologies. For each topology, there are 3 classes with different numbers of actors (S: 2,3,4 actors, M: 5,10,15 actors, L: 10,20,30 actors). For each such class, there are 10 random assignments of actors to process nodes. Finally, for each process there are 25 processes for all combinations of 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, 100% readers and 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, 100% writers. Each process model contains one variable to assess the influence on the measure for different numbers of readers and writers in isolation. This results in a total number of \(3*10*3*10*5*5=22{,}500\) process models. The whole data-set, a documentation, all generated augmentations, additional figures, and all measurements are available online at http://isys.uni-klu.ac.at/PDF/prep/DatasetGeneratingAugmentations17.zip.
Table 1

Characteristics of the topologies for the different classes: minimum, maximum and average number of gateways, and number of activities

Class

Min # GW

Max # GW

Avg # GW

# Activities

S

6

10

7

16

M

10

16

12

50

L

22

26

24

100

7.1.1 Overall measure scores

Table 2 summarizes the average measure scores we obtained running the algorithms over all the 22,500 process models. The comparison between B1 and \(H-UN\) allows us to assess how beneficial tunneling is for reducing the overall number of data transmissions. Both algorithms augment a process in a way such that all the actors subsequent to a variable writer W are recipients of the value written by W. The difference is that \(H-UN\) produces augmentations which are non-redundant by exploiting tunnels. Tunnels allow to avoid transmitting multiple times the same variable version to the same actor, thus reducing the overall number of transmissions. Our experiments show that the reduction in the value of \(\beta \) is considerably high, being on average 78% (from 54.54 to 12.16). Since the application of tunnels still realizes transitive transmissions, the value of \(\alpha \) is 0. On the other hand, as tunneling potentially introduces the need to know additional decision variables, \(H-UN\) brings on average an increase of \(\gamma \) from 0 to 12.94.
Table 2

Average values of \(\alpha \), \(\beta \), and \(\gamma \) for the execution of the different algorithms over the 22,500 processes of all classes

Algorithm

\(\alpha \)

\(\beta \)

\(\gamma \)

B1

0.00

54.54

0.00

H-UN

0.00

12.16

12.94

H-SN

0.97

10.10

11.61

W-WDN

2.76

7.60

11.18

H-SDN

3.10

7.28

11.37

B2

4.81

7.28

10.68

B3

19.55

23.59

6.35

It is important to note that \(\gamma \) is not a weighted number. Weighting it by the number of process actors instead shows the increase in the number of decision variables that need to be communicated to each actor to realize the data-flow. The average number of actors per process in the complete set of processes is 11: augmentations generated by \(H-UN\) require on average \(12.94/11=1.18\) additional decision variables to be transmitted to each process actor. The \(\gamma \) values induced by other restriction classes of the heuristic approach (11.61, 11.18, 11.37) are very close to the one induced by B2 (10.68), and their weighted counterparts are even closer as they differ at most by \((11.61-10.68)/11=0.09\). The impact of the decision variable transmissions induced by the heuristic algorithm becomes then less significant in comparison to the base-lines, being on average higher by a negligible quantity.

Both B2 and \(H-SDN\) provide solutions which are non-redundant and that belong to the same safeness class. Only the actors who really need to read a specific variable get its value. While B2 produces augmentations in which a variable is transmitted to a reader immediately before the reading step, with \(H-SDN\) it is possible to use some man-in-the-middle to realize a transitive transmission. In any case no actor who does not need that variable version is involved. For this reason, both algorithms produce solutions with the very same \(\beta \) value. The advantage of \(H-SDN\) is evident when we look at the \(\alpha \) values for the generated solutions. In our experiments \(H-SDN\) provided results with a better integration of data- and control-flow, which can be seen in an average \(\alpha \) reduction of 36% (from \(\alpha \)=4.81 to \(\alpha \)=3.10). Concerning \(\gamma \), our heuristic approach reaches values which are very close to the ones of the base-line (\(\gamma \)=11.37 for \(H-SDN\), \(\gamma \)=10.68 for B2).

7.1.2 Influence on classes: measure scores per class

Table 3 shows the measure scores of the augmentations given by the different algorithms executions over processes of classes S, M, and L. The trends in the advantages of the heuristic approach versus the base-line approaches seen in the overall analysis are observed also in the single classes. In particular, when comparing \(H-UN\) against B1, we observe a lower achieved value of \(\beta \) in the S class from 16.17 to 1.82 (86% less), in the M class from 53.54 to 12.49 (77% less), and in the L class from 93.91 to 22.17 (76% less). A lower value of \(\alpha \) when comparing \(H-SDN\) against B2 is achieved in all classes: from 0.73 to 0.27 (63% less) in the S class, from 5.00 to 3.03 (39% less) in the M class, and from 8.72 to 5.99 (31% less) in the L class.
Table 3

Average values of \(\alpha \), \(\beta \), and \(\gamma \) for the execution of the different algorithms over the 22,500 processes of classes S, M, and L

Algorithm

S class

M class

L class

\(\alpha \)

\(\beta \)

\(\gamma \)

\(\alpha \)

\(\beta \)

\(\gamma \)

\(\alpha \)

\(\beta \)

\(\gamma \)

B1

0.00

16.17

0.00

0.00

53.54

0.00

0.00

93.91

0.00

H-UN

0.00

1.82

2.23

0.00

12.49

17.53

0.00

22.17

19.05

H-SN

0.09

1.72

2.13

0.83

10.91

16.27

1.99

17.68

16.43

H-WDN

0.24

1.58

2.12

2.59

8.50

15.57

5.46

12.71

15.85

H-SDN

0.27

1.55

2.13

3.03

8.08

15.77

5.99

12.22

16.21

B2

0.73

1.55

2.08

5.00

8.08

14.72

8.72

12.22

15.25

B3

2.29

3.86

0.79

18.44

23.07

9.81

37.93

43.83

8.45

7.1.3 Influence of number of actors, readers and writers, and safeness classes

To understand under which situations, we can expect the minimum and maximum benefits from the heuristic approach, it is interesting to observe the influence of the number of actors, readers, and writers over the measure scores. For a correct analysis, it is necessary to consider the process classes separately, as they differ in the number of actors. We concentrate our discussion on class M, since, due to its size and number of actors, we believe it is the most representative of real-world processes. Here we refer to M05, M10, and M15 as the subclasses of M induced by the different number of actors assigned to its processes. The same observations that we make on this class apply to the measures of the other classes, and to the overall measures as well. We now analyze the impact of the variations in the numbers of actors, readers and writers by comparing \(H-UN\) and \(H-SDN\) against their competing base-line approaches B1 and B2; subsequently we analyze the influence of the safeness classes over the scores of \(\alpha \) and \(\beta \).
Fig. 7

Average values of \(\beta \) reduction from B1 to \(H-UN\) for the processes of class M10

  1. 1.

    Comparison of \(H-UN\) against B1 Comparing \(H-UN\) against B1, for processes in M05, a minimum \(\beta \) advantage of 64.97% and a maximum of 92.68%, with an average of 82.11% were achieved. For processes in M10, a minimum \(\beta \) advantage of 54.25%, and a maximum of 89.81%, with an average of 73.38% were achieved. For processes in M15, the \(\beta \) advantage spans from a minimum of 51.75% to a maximum of 83.68%, with an average of 69.08%. We observe that when the number of actors is low, the \(\beta \) advantage of \(H-UN\) compared to B1 is higher; as the number of actors increases the \(\beta \) advantage is lower.

    For processes in M05, in the broad range of 40% readers to 80% readers and 20 to 100% writers, the advantage in \(\beta \) ranges from 68.97% to 92.68%. For 20% readers, the \(\beta \) advantage spans from 89.05% to 92.02%. The lowest advantages are those relative to processes with 100% writers, but still good results are achieved, with a minimum \(\beta \) advantage of 64.97%. For processes in M10, as can be seen in Fig. 7, in the broad range of 40% to 80% readers and 20% to 100% writers, the advantage in \(\beta \) spans from 60.41% to 85.04%. For 20% readers, we observe an advantage in \(\beta \) from 87.03% to 89.93%. As for M05, also for this class the lowest \(\beta \) advantage is found in the case of 100% writers, with a minimum of 54.25%. For processes in M15, in the broad range of 40% to 80% readers and 20% to 100% writers very good average advantages in \(\beta \) of 61.26% to 75.50% were achieved. The case of 20% readers resulted in average advantage of the \(\beta \) value of 79.59% to 83.7%. The extreme case of 100% writers strongly reduces the utility of exploiting tunnels. Tunnels can only occur between split and join nodes but not between activities. However, still reasonable advantages of \(\beta \) of 51.75% to 79.51% were achieved. An overall trend is that the higher the number of writers or readers, the lower the advantage of our heuristic algorithm. However, the minimal average advantage in \(\beta \) is still 64.97% for M05, 54.25% for M10, and 51.75% for M15. Similar trends can be observed in the other classes and at global level.

     
  2. 2.

    Comparison of \(H-SDN\) against B2 The comparison of \(H-SDN\) against B2 shows an average advantage in the score of \(\alpha \) of 50.05% for M05, of 33.04% for M10, and of 26.61% for M15. The same observation made in the comparison of \(H-UN\) against B1 is valid also for the \(\alpha \) advantage of \(H-SDN\) against B2: less actors mean a higher chance to exploit tunnels and realize transitive transmissions (higher \(\alpha \) advantage), while more actors reduce the likelihood of this opportunity and result in lower \(\alpha \) advantage.

    We now take a closer look at the advantages trend as the number of readers and writers changes. A clear trend we can observe is that the more readers there are in a process, the higher the \(\alpha \) advantage for \(H-SDN\) (Fig. 8). In particular we see that for M05, M10 and M15 the advantage is significant in the range 80 to 100% readers, with peaks of 75.84%, 69.66%, and 64.42%, respectively (averages over the combinations of writers for 100% readers: 55.38%, 45.41%, 40.43%). On the other hand, more writers lead to worse advantage. This is clearly visible in the 100% writers case, independently from the number of readers. The advantage induced by tunnels is almost all lost, being 29.21% (M05), 12.84% (M10), and 7.51% (M15) the worst \(\alpha \) advantages (average over the different ratios of readers).

     
Fig. 8

Average values of \(\alpha \) reduction from B2 to \(H-SDN\) for the processes of class M10

  1. 3.

    Influence of safeness classes on \(\alpha \) and \(\beta \) values Figure 9 shows the general trends of the \(\alpha \) and \(\beta \) values over the processes of class M10 as the restriction level of the heuristic algorithm changes. We observe the increase in \(\alpha \) (0.0, 0.80, 2.88, 3.34) as the number of allowed process actors for a transitive transmission increases, as well as the reduction of \(\beta \) (13.31, 11.78, 8.86, 8.40) which occurs at the same time. These trends are not surprising, since they are a consequence of the fact that by increasing the restriction level from \(H-UN\) to \(H-SDN\) the number of process actors that can be invoked for a variable transmission is more and more reduced. A lower number of possible actors determines, in turn, a lower chance of being able to exploit transitivity and tunnels, thus forcing more direct late transmissions, which means higher \(\alpha \). At the same time, the reduced number of involved actors means also a reduction in the number of unnecessary variable transmissions to actors who do not require the variable, therefore a lower \(\beta \).

     
Fig. 9

Average values of \(\alpha \) and \(\beta \) across the safeness classes for the processes of class M10

Table 4

Average and maximum execution times for the the different safeness classes of the heuristic algorithm over all the processes of class L

Algorithm

Avg time [s]

Max time [s]

95-percentile [s]

H-UN

0.70

212.22

3.10

H-SN

0.66

972.66

2.75

H-WDN

1.92

270.80

5.00

H-SDN

2.61

462.31

6.17

7.1.4 Scalability

Our third evaluation goal (EG3) aims at assessing the scalability of the heuristic approach for inter-organizational processes. Each process model used in the evaluation can be a global process model in an inter-organizational setting, and each task in it might be a sub-process in the local process model.

Table 4 reports the average and maximum times for the executions of the different restrictions of the heuristic algorithm over the processes in the L class, which was the most demanding in terms of computation. In 95% of these processes the execution of \(H-UN\) required less than 3.10 s, the execution of \(H-SN\) less than 2.75 s, the execution of \(H-WDN\) less than 5.00 s, and the execution of \(H-SDN\) required less than 6.17 s. The maximum times of execution were registered with processes characterized by the lowest number of writers and highest number of readers, since this combination results in the highest number of potential transmission paths. The maximum observed execution times are anyways below 8 min. The average memory usage for the execution of the heuristic over a process is 70.89MB. Since the generation of the data-flow implementation takes place at process design time, we conclude that our approach is applicable, both in terms of computation times and in terms of resource requirements. Our experiments therefore show that the heuristic approach scales for inter-organizational settings, since the executions were feasible for global processes with up to 100 activities (L class).

7.2 Discussion

  1. 1.

    The comparison between \(H-UN\) and B1 shows that a significant reduction in \(\beta \) is achieved by the heuristic approach. Our experiments showed that the overall advantage is on average 78% (with a minimum average over processes in M15 of 51.75%, and a maximum average over processes in M05 of 92.68%). An average advantage of 78% in \(\beta \) means that \(H-UN\) produces augmentations that on average require 78% less weighted communication steps than B1. The price to pay for the reduction of \(\beta \) is given by the increased \(\gamma \) value of \(H-UN\), which, when weighted to count the number of additional decisions to communicate to each actor, is still very low. The heuristic approach proves therefore to be beneficial when the requirement is data-flow follows control-flow, since it avoids redundancies and keeps the number of additional decision variables to transmit to each actor low.

     
  2. 2.

    The comparison between \(H-SDN\) and B2 shows that the corresponding \(\beta \) values are the same, since they add no redundant communications; however, \(H-SDN\) reaches on average a 36% better integration of data- and control-flow (with minimum average over all processes in M15 of 26.61%, and a maximum over all processes of M05 of 50.05%). Even when the \(\alpha \) advantage is minimal (7.51% in M15, in the case of 100% writers) no other measure is negatively affected, thus the heuristic approach still remains a viable choice for augmentation. Our experiments therefore show that \(H-SDN\) is always more favorable than B2, as it allows better integration of data- and control-flow.

     
  3. 3.

    The scalability evaluation showed the practical feasibility of the heuristic approach, which was able to provide augmentations, even for big inter-organizational processes with 100 public steps and dozens of gateways, in less than 8 min in the worst case, and in less than 6 s in 95% of cases.

     

8 Related work

Early works on splitting a global process model into processes for each actor of a collaboration were presented in [12] for state charts and [3, 7] for subclasses of Petri nets. They do not address the implementation of the data-flow perspective via messages. Ref. [12] assumes the existence of central data-stores, while [3, 7] abstract from the data-perspective. In [7] the notion of accordance is introduced to formally describe whether a local process model is in accordance with the generated view of the global process model. However, this also only addresses the control-flow perspective.

Later approaches for splitting global processes into local processes for each actor of a collaboration were presented in [12, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21]. We have presented an approach to generate local process models from a global process model with arbitrary assignments of activities to actors in [13]. The work addresses data-flow by generating communication steps for the distribution of decisions. However, the distribution of general case-variables is not addressed. In [14] and the follow up paper [15] a role based decomposition approach for BPEL processes is presented. The paper deals with BPEL specific problems, such as dead path elimination. The proposed solution for exchanging data between actors boils down to the late send base-line approach where data is sent from the origin to the reader immediately before invoking the reader. An alternative approach for splitting processes which is not bound to a specific modeling language is presented in [20]. It presents approaches for splitting different workflow patterns. The implementation of data-flow between partitions is very briefly discussed and a solution equivalent to early direct send is sketched. More details are given in [21]. In particular, activities writing to a variable that is later read by an activity of another actor are connected by message exchange between the writing and the reading activity. In [26] another perspective is taken into account. There, an approach is proposed that focuses on privacy requirements, allowing to define which of the participants are allowed to exchange messages and which are not: if certain exchanges are forbidden, then an alternative solution is generated if possible. In contrast to our heuristic solution presented in this paper, the previously discussed approaches either ignore [3, 7] data-flow, apply base-line strategies [14, 15, 20, 21] or provide only one single solution [26] for the implementation of inter-organizational data-flow.

However, as we could show in [18], there are far more correct solutions for implementing data-flow between actors. The work in [18] presents a sound and complete set of equivalence transformations that allow to derive any correct data-flow implementation from any other correct data-flow implementation. The work thus spans the solution space for all potential data-flow implementations. Our work in [19] has introduced measures for augmentations (which were refined in this paper) and provides an evaluation of the measure characteristics of the base-line approaches. We complete our previous works with an efficient algorithm that allows to generate optimized augmentation solutions adhering to any safeness class.

The previously discussed works abstract from actual message contents or their format. A work addressing this issue was presented in [27]. It extends the original public to private approach from [3] with global and local data models and corresponding mappings. The model-driven approach allows to derive the required message contents and formats between actors. The exchange of data itself is realized through message exchanges, which start from the writer and end at the reader. However, the way the message exchange is actually implemented is abstracted, both for the global choreography and for the local process models. In contrast, we derive optimized, concrete implementations of message exchanges but we abstract from data contents of process variables.

Another broad stream of research on process partitioning deals with decentralizing a previously centralized process with the aim of optimizing the performance with works such as [9, 28, 29, 30, 31]. In these works, the assignment of activities to actors is not realized by the designer. Instead, the approaches derive optimal assignments based on various criteria. This strongly differs from our work, where we generate optimized implementations of the data-flow perspective via message exchanges for a given assignment of actors to activities. However, optimizing partitions / actors assignments to tasks is also a highly complex problem demanding for efficient implementations such as the heuristic approach presented in [28] or the approach in [30] which employs a genetic algorithm.

Approaches that emphasize more on the design perspective of inter organizational data-flow were presented in [32, 33]. Ref. [32] provides a method to probabilistically derive sets of public data-items for each business party participating in an inter-organizational process. The work abstracts from the actual implementation of message exchanges and determines what shared data-elements are required for each path in the global process. These sets may be used by designers to actually implement the data-exchange. In contrast, our approach automates the implementations following various restriction classes.

In Monsieur et al. [33] a pattern language for the design of data-flow in coordination scenarios, in which different participants carry on a process is proposed. The work distinguishes between transmission and request patterns and direct and indirect patterns for data-flow initiation. While the work aims in guiding designers to select the best pattern for their specific scenario, our approach automatically generates direct or indirect data-flow implementations via message exchanges depending on the required safeness class. In addition to the mentioned indirect data transmission pattern, [33] provides some evaluation criteria for the choice between direct and indirect transmission of data in a process, such as data confidentiality and data reusability. These criteria also apply for selecting a proper safeness class.

Our approach aims in generating communication steps that realize the data-transfer between the participants in an optimized manner. An alternative solution is to employ a middleware approach, where all communicating actors communicate via a middleware which is run in a distributed way as proposed in [34, 35]. While the work in [35] mentions the potential of data-flow optimizations within the middleware, no specific optimization approaches are introduced. Middleware systems add an additional layer of abstraction and can reduce the complexity in modeling inter-organizational processes with data. We address the same issue by automatically deriving the required message exchanges at build-time rather than to require a modeler to define them manually. This allows to execute the processes at runtime without making assumptions on the software of the cooperating actors. In contrast to [34, 35], only means to send and receive data are required. No additionally middleware is needed.

9 Conclusion

Automatically generating good implementations of inter-organizational data-flow implementations via message exchange is a very complex task. We reflected on the notion of a ’good’ implementation and propose a set of three measures which can be used to discuss certain partially conflicting qualities of implementing the data-flow and which correspond to qualities relevant in practice. Existing approaches apply static strategies with fixed patterns when and from whom data is sent to other actors requiring the data. Such static strategies lead to rather mediocre data-flow implementations in terms of measure scores, in particular we show that they optimize one aspect at the expense of the other aspects.

Based on these results, we have developed a heuristic algorithm that generates good and non-redundant solutions for a large set of user preferences. Our comprehensive experimental evaluation shows that the heuristic algorithm provides in average significantly better measure scores over existing solutions. Even for worst-case scenarios, our implementation still produces significantly better implementations of the data-flow in terms of measure scores than the approaches proposed so far. The algorithm is scalable and thus also feasible for large inter-organizational processes.

The results of our work in combination with control-flow partitioning approaches [13] allows to automatically derive optimized choreographies from global process models instead of requiring designers to manually model message exchanges between organizations.

The work reported here is part of an ongoing endeavour to improve the handling of data in inter-organizational processes. The results we obtained from this work encourage us for further extending the process model expressiveness by including additional control patterns with the ambition to support a wide range of process definition languages used in practice. In this paper we focus on optimizing data-flow implementations in terms of required interactions, overall band-width requirements and decision overhead. Notwithstanding these rather technical criteria, there are other quality criteria like maintainability or understandability, which have to be taken into account for designing and implementing inter-organizational processes. Integrating these factors with the metrics proposed here is subject of future work. Other addressed questions include the collaboration of process enactment services built on different paradigms (activity centric, artifact centric, declarative, etc.) and the extension of case handling standards for inter-organizational collaboration.

Footnotes

  1. 1.

    For being self-contained, we repeat the process model from [19]. As an extension to [19], we introduce labels to provide a more concise basis for the following sections.

  2. 2.

    Clearly, if additional knowledge about branching probabilities exists, a refined weight function could be used.

Notes

Acknowledgements

Open access funding provided by University of Klagenfurt.

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© The Author(s) 2018

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Informatics SystemsAlpen-Adria-Universität KlagenfurtKlagenfurtAustria

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