IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics Part C: Applications and Reviews

An incremental approach to the analysis and transformation of workflows using region trees

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The analysis of workflows in terms of structural correctness is important for ensuring the quality of workflow models. Typically, this analysis is only one step in a larger development process, followed by further transformation steps that lead from high-level models to more refined models until the workflow can finally be deployed on the underlying workflow engine of the production system. For practical and scalable applications, both analysis and transformation of workflows must be integrated to allow incremental changes of larger workflows. In this paper, we introduce the concept of a region tree (RT) for workflow models that can be used as the central data structure for both workflow analysis and workflow transformation. An RT is similar to a program structure tree and imposes a hierarchy of regions as an overlay structure onto the workflow model. It allows an incremental approach to the analysis and transformation of workflows, and thereby, significantly reduces the overhead because individual regions can be dealt with separately. The RT is built using a set of region-growing rules. The set of rules presented here is shown to be correct and complete in the sense that a workflow is region-reducible as defined through these rules if and only if it is semantically sound. © 2008 IEEE.