W3C

PROV-DM Part II: Constraints of the Provenance Data Model

Working Draft WD4 (internal release)

W3C Editor's Draft 09 March 2012

This version:
http://dvcs.w3.org/hg/prov/raw-file/default/model/prov-dm-constraints.html
Latest published version:
http://www.w3.org/TR/prov-dm-constraints/
Latest editor's draft:
http://dvcs.w3.org/hg/prov/raw-file/default/model/prov-dm-constraints.html
Previous version:
none
Editors:
Luc Moreau, University of Southampton
Paolo Missier, Newcastle University
Author:
TBD

Abstract

PROV-DM is a data model for provenance that describes the entities, people and activities involved in producing a piece of data or thing in the world. PROV-DM is domain-agnostic, but is equipped with extensibility points allowing further domain-specific and application-specific extensions to be defined. PROV-DM is accompanied by PROV-N, a technology-independent notation, which allows serializations of PROV-DM instances to be created for human consumption, which facilitates the mapping of PROV-DM to concrete syntax, and which is used as the basis for a formal semantics of PROV-DM. This document introduces further set of concepts underpinning the PROV-DM data model and defines constraints that well-structured provenance descriptions should follow and that provide an interpretation for these descriptions.

Status of This Document

This section describes the status of this document at the time of its publication. Other documents may supersede this document. A list of current W3C publications and the latest revision of this technical report can be found in the W3C technical reports index at http://www.w3.org/TR/.

This document is released internally by the Provenance Working Group.
This document is part of the PROV family of specifications, a set of specifications aiming to define the various aspects that are necessary to achieve the vision of inter-operable interchange of provenance information in heterogeneous environments such as the Web. This document defines the PROV-DM data model for provenance, accompanied with a notation to express instances of that data model for human consumption. Other documents are:

This document was published by the Provenance Working Group as an Editor's Draft. If you wish to make comments regarding this document, please send them to [email protected] (subscribe, archives). All feedback is welcome.

Publication as an Editor's Draft does not imply endorsement by the W3C Membership. This is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to cite this document as other than work in progress.

This document was produced by a group operating under the 5 February 2004 W3C Patent Policy. W3C maintains a public list of any patent disclosures made in connection with the deliverables of the group; that page also includes instructions for disclosing a patent. An individual who has actual knowledge of a patent which the individual believes contains Essential Claim(s) must disclose the information in accordance with section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Provenance is defined as a record that describes the people, institutions, entities, and activities, involved in producing, influencing, or delivering a piece of data or a thing in the world. A companion specification [PROV-DM] defines PROV-DM, a data model for provenance, allowing such descriptions to be expressed.

PROV-DM has essentially be defined without any constraints [PROV-DM]. This document introduces a further set of concepts underpinning this data model and defines constraints that well-structured provenance descriptions should follow and that provide an interpretation for these descriptions.

This specification is one of several specifications, referred to as the PROV family of specifications, defining the various aspects that are necessary to achieve the vision of inter-operable exchange of provenance:

1.1 Structure of this Document

TODO

In section 2, further concepts underpinning PROV-DM are introduced.

Section 3

Section 4

Section 5

Section 6

Section 7

Section 8

Section 9 successively review refined provenance descriptions, and examine their meaning, in light of the constraints introduced in previous sections.

1.2 Conventions

The key words "must", "must not", "required", "shall", "shall not", "should", "should not", "recommended", "may", and "optional" in this document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

2. Data Model Refinement

Underpinning the PROV-DM data model is a notion of event, marking transitions in the world (when entities are generated, used, or destroyed, or activities started or ended). This notion of event is not first-class in the data model, but underpins many of its concepts and its semantics [PROV-SEM]. Thus, using this notion of event, we can provide an interpretation for the data model, which in turn can allow creators of provenance assertions to make their assertions more robust.

2.1 Time and Event

Time is critical in the context of provenance, since it can help corroborate provenance claims. For instance, if an entity is claimed to be obtained by transforming another, then the latter must have existed before the former. If it is not the case, then there is something wrong with such a provenance claim.

Although time is critical, we should also recognize that provenance can be used in many different contexts: in a single system, across the Web, or in spatial data management, to name a few. Hence, it is a design objective of PROV-DM to minimize the assumptions about time, so that PROV-DM can be used in varied contexts.

Furthermore, consider two activities that started at the same time instant. Just by referring to that instant, we cannot distinguish which activity start we refer to. This is particularly relevant if we try to explain that the start of these activities had different reasons. We need to be able to refer to the start of an activity as a first class concept, so that we can talk about it and about its relation with respect to other similar starts.

Hence, in our conceptualization of the world, an instantaneous event, or event for short, happens in the world and marks a change in the world, in its activities and in its entities. The term "event" is commonly used in process algebra with a similar meaning. For instance, in CSP [CSP], events represent communications or interactions; they are assumed to be atomic and instantaneous.

2.1.1 Types of Events

Four kinds of instantaneous events underpin the PROV-DM data model. The activity start and activity end events demarcate the beginning and the end of activities, respectively. The entity generation and entity usage events demarcate the characterization interval for entities. More specifically:

An entity generation event is the instantaneous event that marks the final instant of an entity's creation timespan, after which it is no longer available for use.

An entity usage event is the instantaneous event that marks the first instant of an entity's consumption timespan by an activity.

An entity destruction event is the instantaneous event that marks the initial instant of an entity's destruction timespan, after which it no longer becomes available for use.

Tentative definition of destruction!

An activity start event is the instantaneous event that marks the instant an activity starts.

An activity end event is the instantaneous event that marks the instant an activity ends.

2.1.2 Event Ordering

To allow for minimalistic clock assumptions, like Lamport [CLOCK], PROV-DM relies on a notion of relative ordering of instantaneous events, without using physical clocks. This specification assumes that a partial order exists between instantaneous events.

Specifically, follows is a partial order between instantaneous events, indicating that an instantaneous event occurs at the same time as or after another. For symmetry, precedes is defined as the inverse of follows. (Hence, these relations are reflexive and transitive.)

How such partial order is realized in practice is beyond the scope of this specification. This specification only assumes that each instantaneous event can be mapped to an instant in some form of timeline. The actual mapping is not in scope of this specification. Likewise, whether this timeline is formed of a single global timeline or whether it consists of multiple Lamport's style clocks is also beyond this specification. It is anticipated that follows and precedes correspond to some ordering over this timeline.

This specification introduces a set of "temporal interpretation" rules allowing the derivation of instantaneous event ordering constraints from provenance descriptions. According to such temporal interpretation, descriptions must satisfy such constraints. We note that the actual verification of such ordering constraints is outside the scope of this specification.

PROV-DM also allows for time observations to be inserted in specific descriptions, for each recognized instantaneous event introduced in this specification. The presence of a time observation for a given instantaneous event fixes the mapping of this instantaneous event to the timeline. It can also help with the verification of associated ordering constraints (though, again, this verification is outside the scope of this specification).

2.2 Attributes in Entities and Beyond

When we talk about things in the world in natural language and even when we assign identifiers, we are often imprecise in ways that make it difficult to clearly and unambiguously report provenance: a resource with a URL may be understood as referring to a report available at that URL, the version of the report available there today, the report independent of where it is hosted over time, etc.

From a provenance viewpoint, it is important to identify a "partial state" of something, i.e. something with some aspects that have been fixed, so that it becomes possible to express its provenance, and what causes that thing, with these specific aspects to be as such.

It is the purpose of attributes in PROV-DM to help fix some aspect of entities. Indeed, we previously defined entities as things in the world one wants to provide provenance for; we refine this definition as follows, using attribute-values to describe entities' "partial states", and linking them to the very existence of entities.

An entity is a thing in the world one wants to provide provenance for and whose situation in the world is represented by some attribute-value pairs; an entity's attribute-value pairs remain unchanged during an entity's characterization interval, which is defined as the period comprised between its generation event and its destruction event.

An entity fixes some aspects of a thing and its situation in the world. An alternative entity may fix other aspects, and its provenance may be different.

Different users may take different perspectives on a resource with a URL. For each perspective, an entity may be expressed:
  • a report available at a URL: fixes the nature of the thing, i.e. a document, and its location;
  • the version of the report available there today: fixes its version number, contents, and its date;
  • the report independent of where it is hosted and of its content over time: fixes the nature of the thing as a conceptual artifact.
The provenance of these three entities may differ, and may be along the following lines:
  • the provenance of a report available at a URL may include: the act of publishing it and making it available at a given location, possibly under some license and access control;
  • the provenance of the version of the report available there today may include: the authorship of the specific content, and reference to imported content;
  • the provenance of the report independent of where it is hosted over time may include: the motivation for writing the report, the overall methodology for producing it, and the broad team involved in it.

We do not assume that any entity is more important than any other; in fact, it is possible to describe the processing that occurred for the report to be commissioned, for individual versions to be created, for those versions to be published at the given URL, etc., each via a different entity with attribute-value pairs that fix some aspect of the report appropriately.

Attributes are not restricted to entities, but they belong to a variety of PROV-DM objects, including activities, activity associations, responsibility chains, generations, usages, derivations, and alternates. Each object has its duration interval, and attribute-value pairs for a given object, are expected to be unchanged for the object's duration.

2.3 Description, Assertion, and Inference

PROV-DM is a provenance data model designed to express descriptions of the world.

A file at some point during its lifecycle, which includes multiple edits by multiple people, can be described by its type, its location in the file system, a creator, and content.

The data model is designed to capture activities that happened in the past, as opposed to activities that may or will happen. However, this distinction is not formally enforced. Therefore, all PROV-DM descriptions should be interpreted as what has happened, as opposed to what may or will happen.

This specification does not prescribe the means by which descriptions can be arrived at; for example, descriptions can be composed on the basis of observations, reasoning, or any other means.

Sometimes, inferences about the world can be made from descriptions conformant to the PROV-DM data model. When this is the case, this specification defines such inferences, allowing new descriptions to be inferred from existing ones. Hence, descriptions of the world can result either from direct assertion or from inference by application of inference rules defined by this specification.

We need to refine the definition of entity and activity, and all the concepts in general. This is ISSUE-223.

2.4 Account and AccountEntity

It is common for multiple provenance records to co-exist. For instance, when emailing a file, there could be a provenance record kept by the mail client, and another by the mail server. Such provenance records may provide different explanations about something happening in the world, because they are created by different parties or observed by different witnesses. A given party could also create multiple provenance records about an execution, to capture different levels of details, targeted at different end-users: the programmer of an experiment may be interested in a detailed log of execution, while the scientists may focus more on the scientific-level description. Given that multiple provenance records can co-exist, it is important to have details about their origin, who they are attributed to, how they were generated, etc. In other words, an important requirement is to be able to express the provenance of provenance.

An account is a named bundle of provenance descriptions. PROV-DM does not provide an actual mechanism for creating accounts, i.e. for bundling up provenance descriptions and naming them. Accounts must satisfy some properties:

The last point is important and needs to be discussed by the Working Group. It indicates that within an account:
  • It is always possible to add new provenance descriptions, e.g. stating that a given entity was used by an activity. This is very much an open world assumption.
  • It is not permitted to add new attributes to a given entity (a form of closed world assumption from the attributes point of view), though it is always permitted to create a new description for an entity, which is a "copy" of the original description extended with novel attributes (cf Example merge-with-rename).

There is no construct in PROV-DM to create such named bundles. Instead, it is assumed that some mechanism, outside PROV-DM can create them. However, from a provenance viewpoint, such accounts are things we may want to describe the provenance of. In order to be able to do so, we need to see accounts as entities, whose origin can be described using PROV-DM vocabulary. Thus, PROV-DM introduces the reserved type AccountEntity, defined as follows: AccountEntity is the category of entities that are accounts, i.e. named bundles of provenance descriptions.

3. Constraints Applicable to PROV-DM

In [PROV-DM], a data model for provenance has been defined without introducing any constraint that this data model has to satisfy. In Section 2, various notions have been introduced, attributes, event, entity interval, activity interval, accounts, which underpin the PROV-DM data model. Using these notion, we explore the constraints that the PROV-DM data model has to satisfy.

Overview the kind of constraints

4. PROV-DM Definitional Constraints and Inferences

In this section, we revisit elements and relations of PROV-DM, and examine and examine the constraints associated with their definitions.

Proposing to remove the subsections in this section, since some have no constraints.

4.1 Element

4.1.1 Entity

An entity is a thing in the world one wants to provide provenance for and whose situation in the world is represented by some attribute-value pairs; an entity's attribute-value pairs remain unchanged during an entity's characterization interval, i.e. a continuous interval between two instantaneous events in the world, namely its generation event and its destruction event.

Further considerations:
  • In order to describe something over several intervals, it is required to create multiple entities (either by direct assertion or by inference), each with its own identifier (so as to allow potential dependencies between the various entity records).
  • There is no assumption that the set of attributes is complete and that the attributes are independent or orthogonal of each other.
  • A characterization interval may collapse into a single instant.
The characterization interval of an entity record is currently implicit. Making it explicit would allow us to define alternateOf and specializationOf more precisely. Beginning and end of characterization interval could be expressed by attributes (similarly to activities). How do we define the end of an entity? This is ISSUE-204.

4.1.2 Activity

An activity is anything that involves entities. An activity is delimited by its start and its end events; hence, it occurs over an interval delimited by two instantaneous events. However, an activity need not mention time information, nor duration, because they may not be known. An activity's attribute-value pairs remain unchanged during an activity's interval, i.e. an interval between two instantaneous events in the world, namely its start event and its end event.

For the interpretation of an activity, see start-precedes-end.

Further considerations:

  • An activity is not an entity. Indeed, an entity exists in full at any point in its lifetime, persists during this interval, and preserves the characteristics that makes it identifiable. In contrast, an activity is something that happens, unfolds or develops through time, but is typically not identifiable by the characteristics it exhibits at any point during its duration. This distinction is similar to the distinction between 'continuant' and 'occurrent' in logic [Logic].

4.1.3 Agent

Shouldn't we allow for entities (not agent) to be associated with an activity? Should we drop the inference association-agent? ISSUE-203.

One can assert an agent record or alternatively, one can infer an agent record by its association with an activity.

If the records entity(e,attrs) and wasAssociatedWith(a,e) hold for some identifiers a, e, and attribute-values attrs, then the record agent(e,attrs) also holds.

4.1.4 Note

Attribute-value pairs occurring in notes are application specific. Thus, their interpretation is outside the scope of this document, and they are not subject to any of the constraints listed in this document.

4.2 PROV-DM Relations

4.2.1 Generation

A generation is an instantaneous world event, the completed creation of a new entity by an activity. This entity become available for usage after this instantaneous event. This entity did not exist before creation. This instantaneous event encompasses a description of the modalities of generation of this entity by this activity, by means of key-value pairs.

A generation's id is optional. It must be used when annotating generations (see Section Annotation) or when defining precise derivations (see Derivation).

For the interpretation of a generation, see generation-within-activity.

See generation-uniqueness for a structural constraint on generations.

4.2.2 Usage

A usage is an instantaneous world event: an activity beginning to consume an entity. Before this event, the activity had not begun to consume or use to this entity. The description includes the modalities of usage of this entity by this activity.

A usage id is optional. It must be present when annotating usages (see Section Annotation) or when defining precise derivations (see Derivation).

A reference to a given entity may appear in multiple usages for a given activity identifier.

For the interpretation of a usage, see generation-precedes-usage and usage-within-activity.

4.2.3 Activity Association

For the interpretation of an activity association, see wasAssociatedWith-ordering.
The activity association record does not allow for a plan to be asserted without an agent. This seems over-restrictive. Discussed in the context of ISSUE-203.
Agents should not be inferred. WasAssociatedWith should also work with entities. This is ISSUE-206.

4.2.4 Start and Ends

Should we define start/end records as representation of activity start/end events. Should time be associated with these events rather than with activities. This will be similar to what we do for entities. This is issue ISSUE-207.

4.2.5 Responsibility Chain

Nothing here.

4.2.6 Derivation

A derivation is more informative if it contains a reference to an activity, generation, and usage. Hence, the following implication holds.

Given two entities denoted by e1 and e2, if the assertion wasDerivedFrom(e2, e1, a, g2, u1, attrs) holds for some generation g2, usage u1, and set of attribute-value pairs attrs, then wasDerivedFrom(e2,e1, attrs) also holds.

Note that inferring derivation from usage and generation does not hold in general. Indeed, when a generation wasGeneratedBy(g, e2, a, attrs2) precedes used(u, a, e1, attrs1), for some e1, e2, attrs1, attrs2, and a, one cannot infer derivation wasDerivedFrom(e2, e1, a, g, u) or wasDerivedFrom(e2,e1) since of e2 cannot possibly be derived from e1, given the creation of e2 precedes the use of e1.

See derivation-use for a structural constraint on derivations.
Emphasize the notion of 'affected by' ISSUE-133.

4.2.7 Alternate and Specializations

Nothing to add here

In order to further convey the intended meaning, the following properties are associated to these two relations.
  • specializationOf(e2,e1) is transitive: specializationOf(e3,e2) and specializationOf(e2,e1) implies specializationOf(e3,e1).
  • specializationOf(e2,e1) is anti-symmetric: specializationOf(e2,e1) implies that specializationOf(e1,e2) does not hold.
  • alternateOf(e2,e1) is symmetric: alternateOf(e2,e1) implies alternateOf(e1,e2).
There are proposals to make alternateOf a transitive property. This is still under discussion and the default is for alternateOf not to be transitive, and this is what the current text reflects.
A discussion on alternative definition of these relations has not reached a satisfactory conclusion yet. This is ISSUE-29. Also ISSUE-96.

4.3 PROV-DM Common Relations

This section contains constraints associated with PROV-DM common relations.

4.3.1 Traceability

Traceability can be inferred from existing descriptions, or can be asserted stating that a dependency path exists without its individual steps being expressed. This is captured by the following inference and constraint, respectively.

Given two identifiers e2 and e1 for entities, the following statements hold:
  1. If wasDerivedFrom(e2,e1,a,g2,u1) holds, for some a, g2, u1, then tracedTo(e2,e1) also holds.
  2. If wasDerivedFrom(e2,e1) holds, then tracedTo(e2,e1) also holds.
  3. If wasGeneratedBy(e2,a,gAttr) and wasAssociatedWith(a,e1) hold, for some a and gAttr, then tracedTo(e2,e1) also holds.
  4. If wasGeneratedBy(e2,a,gAttr), wasAssociatedWith(a,e) and actedOnBehalfOf(e,e1) hold, for some a, e, and gAttr, then tracedTo(e2,e1) also holds.
  5. If wasGeneratedBy(e2,a,gAttr) and wasStartedBy(a,e1,sAttr) hold, for some a, e, and gAttr, and sAttr, then tracedTo(e2,e1) also holds.
  6. If tracedTo(e2,e) and tracedTo(e,e1) hold for some e, then tracedTo(e2,e1) also holds.

We note that the inference rule traceability-inference does not allow us to infer attributes, which are application specific.

If tracedTo(r2,r1,attrs) holds for two identifiers r2 and r1 identifying entities, and attribute-value pairs attrs, then there exist e0, e1, ..., en for n≥1, with e0=r2 and en=r1, and for any i such that 0≤i≤n-1, at least of the following statements holds:
  • wasDerivedFrom(ei,ei+1,a,g2,u1) holds, for some a, g2, u1, or
  • wasDerivedFrom(ei,ei+1) holds, or
  • wasBasedOn(ei,ei+1) holds, or
  • wasGeneratedBy(ei,a,gAttr) and wasAssociatedWith(a,ei+1) hold, for some a and gAttr, or
  • wasGeneratedBy(ei,a,gAttr), wasAssociatedWith(a,e) and actedOnBehalfOf(e,ei+1) hold, for some a, e and gAttr, or
  • wasGeneratedBy(ei,a,gAttr) and wasStartedBy(a,ei+1,sAttr) hold, for some a, e, and gAttr, and sAttr.

We note that the previous constraint is not really an inference rule, since there is nothing that we can actually infer. Instead, this constraint should simply be seen as part of the definition of the traceability relation.

4.3.2 Activity Ordering

An information flow ordering relation is formally defined as follows.

Given two activities identified by a1 and a2, wasInformedBy(a2,a1) holds, if and only if there is an entity with some identifier e and some sets of attribute-value pairs attrs1 and attrs2, such that wasGeneratedBy(e,a1,attrs1) and used(a2,e,attrs2) hold.
For the interpretation of an information flow ordering, see wasInformedBy-ordering.

The relationship wasInformedBy is not transitive. Indeed, consider the following fragment.

wasInformedBy(a2,a1)
wasInformedBy(a3,a2)

We cannot infer wasInformedBy(a3,a1) from these expressions. Indeed, from wasInformedBy(a2,a1), we know that there exists e1 such that e1 was generated by a1 and used by a2. Likewise, from wasInformedBy(a3,a2), we know that there exists e2 such that e2 was generated by a2 and used by a3. The following illustration shows a case for which transitivity cannot hold. The horizontal axis represents the event line. We see that e1 was generated after e2 was used. Furthermore, the illustration also shows that a3 completes before a1. So it is impossible for a3 to have used an entity generated by a1.

non transitivity of wasInformedBy
Counter-example for transitivity of wasInformedBy

Control ordering between two activities denoted by a2 and a1 is specified as follows.

Given two activities with identifiers a1 and a2, wasStartedBy(a2,a1) holds if and only if there exist an entity with some identifier e and some attributes gAttr and sAttr, such that wasGeneratedBy(e,a1,gAttr) and wasStartedBy(a2,e,sAttr) hold.

We note that an activity start associates an activity with an agent, and is denoted by the name wasStartedBy. A control ordering relation associates an activity with another activity, also denoted by the name wasStartedBy. Effectively, by considering both relation types, the relation wasStartedBy has a range formed by the union of agents and activities.

For the interpretation of a control flow ordering, see wasStartedBy-ordering.

4.3.3 Revision

A revision needs to satisfy the following constraint, linking the two entities by a derivation, and stating them to be a specialization of a third entity.

Given two identifiers old and new identifying two entities, and an identifier ag identifying an agent, if wasRevisionOf(new,old,ag) holds, then there exists an entity with some identifier e and some attribute-values eAttrs, dAttrs, such that the following hold:
  • wasDerivedFrom(new,old,dAttrs);
  • entity(e,eAttrs);
  • specializationOf(new,e);
  • specializationOf(old,e).

wasRevisionOf is a strict sub-relation of wasDerivedFrom since two entities e2 and e1 may satisfy wasDerivedFrom(e2,e1) without being a variant of each other.

4.3.4 Attribution

If wasAttributedTo(e,ag) holds for some identifiers e and ag, then, there exists an activity with some identifier a such that the following statements hold:
activity(a,t1,t2,attr1)
wasGenerateBy(e,a)
wasAssociatedWith(a,ag,attr2)
for some sets of attribute-value pairs attr1 and attr2, time t1, and t2.

4.3.5 Quotation

If wasQuotedFrom(e2,e1,ag2,ag1,attrs) holds for some identifiers e2, e1, ag2, ag1, then the following hold:
wasDerivedFrom(e2,e1)
wasAttributedTo(e2,ag2)
wasAttributedTo(e1,ag1)

4.3.6 Original Source

Nothing specific.

4.3.7 Collections

Nothing specific, here, everything in Collection constraint section

5. PROV-DM Account Constraints

PROV-DM allows for multiple descriptions of entities (and in general any identifiable object) to be expressed.

Let us consider two descriptions of a same entity, which we have taken from two different contexts (see example). A working draft published by the w3:Consortium:

entity(tr:WD-prov-dm-20111215, [ prov:type="pr:RecsWD" %% xsd:QName ])
The second version of a document edited by some authors:
entity(tr:WD-prov-dm-20111215, [ prov:type="document", ex:version="2" ])

Both descriptions are about the same entity identified by tr:WD-prov-dm-20111215, but they contain different attributes, reflecting the context in which they occur.

Two different descriptions of a same entity cannot co-exist in a same account as formalized in unique-description-in-account.

Given an entity identifier e, there is at most one description entity(e,av) occurring in a given account, where av is some set of attribute-values. Other descriptions of the same entity can exist in different accounts.

This constraint similarly applies to all other types of identifiable entities and relations.

See Section structural-constraints for a structural constraint on accounts

In some cases, there may be a requirement for the two descriptions to be included in a same account. To satisfy the constraint unique-description-in-account, we can adopt a different identifier for one of them, and relate the two descriptions with the alternateOf relation.

We now reconsider the same two descriptions of a same entity, but we change the identifier for one of them:

entity(tr:WD-prov-dm-20111215, [ prov:type="pr:RecsWD" %% xsd:QName ])
entity(ex:alternate-20111215, [ prov:type="document", ex:version="2" ])
alternateOf(tr:WD-prov-dm-20111215,ex:alternate-20111215)
alternateOf(ex:alternate-20111215,tr:WD-prov-dm-20111215)

6. PROV-DM Event Ordering Constraints

Section section-time-event introduces a notion of instantaneous event marking changes in the world, in its activities and entities. PROV-DM identifies five kinds of instantaneous events, namely entity generation event, entity usage event, entity destruction event, activity start event and activity end event. PROV-DM adopts Lamport's clock assumptions [CLOCK] in the form of a reflexive, transitive partial order follows (and its inverse precedes) between instantaneous events. Furthermore, PROV-DM assumes the existence of a mapping from instantaneous events to time clocks, though the actual mapping is not in scope of this specification.

Given that provenance consists of a description of past entities and activities, to be meaningful provenance descriptions must satisfy instantaneous event ordering constraints, which we introduce in this section. For instance, an entity can only be used after it was generated; hence, we say that an entity's generation event precedes any of this entity's usage event. Should this ordering constraint be proven invalid, the associated generation and usage could not be credible. The rest of this section defines the temporal interpretation of provenance descriptions as a set of instantaneous event ordering constraints.

PROV-DM also allows for time observations to be inserted in specific provenance descriptions, for each of the four kinds of instantaneous events introduced in this specification. The presence of a time observation for a given instantaneous event fixes the mapping of this instantaneous event to the timeline. The presence of time information in a provenance description instantiates the ordering constraint with that time information. It is expected that such instantiated constraint can help corroborate provenance information. We anticipate that verification algorithms could be developedm, though this verification is outside the scope of this specification.

The following figure summarizes the ordering constraints in a graphical manner. For each subfigure, an event time line points to the right. Activities are represented by rectangles, whereas entities are represented by circles. Usage, generation and derivation are represented by the corresponding edges between entities and activities. The four kind of instantaneous events are represented by vertical dotted lines (adjacent to the vertical sides of an activity's rectangle, or intersecting usage and generation edges). The ordering constraints are represented by triangles: an occurrence of a triangle between two instantaneous event vertical dotted lines represents that the event denoted by the left line precedes the event denoted by the right line.

constraints between events
Summary of instantaneous event ordering constraints

The mere existence of an activity entails some event ordering in the world, since an activity start event always precedes the corresponding activity end event. This is illustrated by Subfigure constraint-summary (a) and expressed by constraint start-precedes-end.

The following ordering constraint holds for any activity: the start event precedes the end event.

A usage and a generation for a given entity implies ordering of events in the world, since the generation event had to precede the usage event. This is illustrated by Subfigure constraint-summary (b) and expressed by constraint generation-precedes-usage.

For any entity, the following ordering constraint holds: the generation of an entity always precedes any of its usages.

A usage implies ordering of events in the world, since the usage event had to occur during the associated activity. This is illustrated by Subfigure constraint-summary (c) and expressed by constraint usage-within-activity.

Given an activity with identifier a, an entity with identifier e, a set of attribute-value pairs attrs, and optional time t, if assertion used(a,e,attrs) or used(a,e,attrs,t) holds, then the following ordering constraint holds: the usage of the entity denoted by e precedes the end of activity denoted by a and follows its start.

A generation implies ordering of events in the world, since the generation event had to occur during the associated activity. This is illustrated by Subfigure constraint-summary (d) and expressed by constraint generation-within-activity.

Given an activity with identifier a, an entity with identifier e, a set of attribute-value pairs attrs, and optional time t, if wasGeneratedBy(e,a,attrs) or wasGeneratedBy(e,a,attrs,t) holds, then the following ordering constraint also holds: the generation of the entity denoted by e precedes the end of activity a and follows the start of a.

If there is a derivation between e2 and e1, then this means that the entity e1 had some form of influence on the entity e2; for this to be possible, some event ordering must be satisfied. First, we consider derivations, where the activity and usage are known. In that case, the usage of e1 has to precede the generation of e2. This is illustrated by Subfigure constraint-summary (e) and expressed by constraint derivation-usage-generation-ordering.

Given an activity with identifier a, entities with identifier e1 and e2, a generation identified by g2, and a usage identified by u1, if wasDerivedFrom(e2,e1,a,g2,u1,attrs) holds, then the following ordering constraint holds: the usage of entity denoted by e1 precedes the generation of the entity denoted by e2.

When the usage is unknown, a similar constraint exists, except that the constraint refers to its generation event, as illustrated by Subfigure constraint-summary (f) and expressed by constraint derivation-generation-generation-ordering.

Given two entities denoted by e1 and e2, if wasDerivedFrom(e2,e1, attrs) holds, then the following ordering constraint holds: the generation event of the entity denoted by e1 precedes the generation event of the entity denoted by e2.

Note that event ordering is between generations of e1 and e2, as opposed to derivation where usage is known, which implies ordering ordering between the usage of e1 and generation of e2.

Information flow ordering between two activities a1 and a2 also implies ordering of events in the world, since some entity must have been generated by the former and used by the later, which implies that the start event of a1 cannot follow the end event of a2. This is illustrated by Subfigure constraint-summary (g) and expressed by constraint wasInformedBy-ordering.

Given two activities denoted by a1 and a2, if wasInformedBy(a2,a1) holds, then the following ordering constraint holds: the start event of the activity denoted by a1 precedes the end event of the activity denoted by a2.

Control flow ordering between two activities a1 and a2 also implies ordering of events in the world, since a1 must have been active before a2 started. This is illustrated by Subfigure constraint-summary (h) and expressed by constraint wasStartedBy-ordering.

Given two activities denoted by a1 and a2, if wasStartedBy(a2,a1) holds, then the following ordering constraint holds: the start event of the activity denoted by a1 precedes the start event of the activity denoted by a2.
In the following, we assume that we can talk about the end of an entity (or agent) For this, we use the term 'destruction' This is ISSUE-204.

Further constraints appear in Figure constraint-summary2 and are discussed below.

further constraints between events
Summary of instantaneous event ordering constraints (continued)

An agent that started an activity must exist when the activity starts. This is illustrated by Subfigure constraint-summary2 (a) and expressed by constraint wasStartedByAgent-ordering.

Given an activity denoted by a and an agent denoted by ag, if wasStartedBy(a,ag) holds, then the following ordering constraints hold: the start event of the activity denoted by a follows the generation event for agent denoted by ag, and precedes the destruction event of the same agent.

An activity that was associated with an agent must have some overlap with the agent. The agent may be generated, or may only become associated with the activity, after its start: so, the agent is required to exist before the activity end. Likewise, the agent may be destructed, or may terminate its association with the activity, before the activity end: hence, the agent destruction is required to happen after the activity start. This is illustrated by Subfigure constraint-summary2 (b) and expressed by constraint wasAssociatedWith-ordering.

Given an activity denoted by a and an agent denoted by ag, if wasAssociatedWith(a,ag) holds, then the following ordering constraints hold: the start event of the activity denoted by a precedes the destruction event of the agent denoted by ag, and the generation event for agent denoted by ag precedes the activity end event.
For completeness, we should define ordering constraint for wasAssociatedWith and actedOnBehalfOf. For wasAssociatedWith(a,ag), it feels that ag must have some overlap with a. For actedOnBehalfOf(ag1,ag2,a), it seem that ag2 should have existed before the overlap between ag1 and a. This is ISSUE-221.
It is suggested that a stronger name for wasAssociatedWith should be adopted. This is ISSUE-182.

7. PROV-DM Structural Constraints

Section 4 provides definitional constraints for data model concepts. Section 5 introduces constraints on descriptions occurring in accounts. Section 6 defines an interpretation of this data model, in terms of event ordering constraints. This section introduces further constraints on the structure of PROV-DM descriptions. Descriptions that satisfy these constraints are said to be structurally well-formed. A benefit of structurally well-formed provenance descriptions is that further inferences can be made, because descriptions are more precise, and therefore, richer.

According to the definition of a generation, an entity becomes available after this entity's generation event, and does not exist before this event. From this definition, we conclude that PROV-DM does not allow for an entity to have two generations occurring at two different instants. The rationale for this constraint is as follows. Two distinct generation events (by a same activity or by two distinct activities), occurring one after the other, necessarily create two distinct entities; otherwise, the second generation event would have resulted in an entity that existed before its creation, which contradicts the definition of generation.

So, PROV-DM allows for two distinct generations g1 and g2 referencing a same entity provided they occur simultaneously. In practice, for such a simultaneous generation to occur, the generation event has to be unique and caused by a single world activity, though provenance may contain several descriptions for the same world activity.

In the following assertions, a workflow execution a0 consists of two sub-workflow executions a1 and a2. Sub-workflow execution a2 generates entity e, so does a0.

activity(a0,,,[prov:type="workflow execution"])
activity(a1,,,[prov:type="workflow execution"])
activity(a2,,,[prov:type="workflow execution"])
wasInformedBy(a2,a1)

wasGeneratedBy(e,a0)
wasGeneratedBy(e,a2)

So, we have two different generations for entity e. Such an example is permitted in PROV-DM if the two activities denoted by a0 and a2 are a single thing happening in the world but described from different perspectives.

While this example is permitted in PROV-DM, it does not make the inter-relation between activities explicit, and it mixes descriptions expressed from different perspectives together. While this may acceptable in some specific applications, it becomes challenging for inter-operability. Indeed, PROV-DM does not offer any relation describing the structure of activities. Such descriptions are said not be structurally well-formed.

Structurally well-formed provenance can be obtained by partitioning the generations into different accounts. This makes it clear that these generations provide alternative descriptions of the same real-world generation event, rather than describing two distinct generation events for the same entity. When accounts are used, the example can be encoded as follows.

The same example is now revisited, with the following assertions that are structurally well-formed. Two accounts are introduced, and there is a single generation for entity e per account.

In a first account, entitled "summary", we find:

        activity(a0,t1,t2,[prov:type="workflow execution"])
        wasGeneratedBy(e,a0)

In a second account, entitled "detail", we find:

        activity(a1,t1,t3,[prov:type="workflow execution"])
        activity(a2,t3,t2,[prov:type="workflow execution"])
        wasInformedBy(a2,a1)
        wasGeneratedBy(e,a2)

Structurally well-formed provenance satisfies some constraints, which force the structure of descriptions to be exposed by means of accounts. With these constraints satisfied, further inferences can be made about structurally well-formed descriptons. The uniqueness of generations in accounts is formulated as follows.

Given an entity denoted by e, two activities denoted by a1 and a2, and two sets of attribute-value pairs attrs1 and attrs2, if wasGeneratedBy(id1,e,a1,attrs1) and wasGeneratedBy(id2,e,a2,attrs2) exist in the scope of a given account, then id1=id2, a1=a2 and attrs1=attrs2.

A further inference is permitted from derivations with an explicit activity and no usage:

Given an activity a, entities denoted by e1 and e2, and sets of attribute-value pairs dAttrs, gAttrs, if wasDerivedFrom(e2,e1, a, dAttrs) and wasGeneratedBy(e2,a,gAttrs) hold, then used(a,e1,uAttrs) also holds for some set of attribute-value pairs uAttrs.

This inference is justified by the fact that the entity denoted by e2 is generated by at most one activity in a given account (see generation-uniqueness). Hence, this activity is also the one referred to by the usage of e1.

We note that the converse inference, does not hold. From wasDerivedFrom(e2,e1) and used(a,e1), one cannot derive wasGeneratedBy(e2,a,attrs2) because identifier e1 may occur in usages performed by many activities, which may have not generated the entity denoted by e2.

An account is said to be structurally well-formed if it satisfies the constraint generation-uniqueness. If an account is structurally well-formed, it support the inference derivation-use.

Taking the union of two accounts is another account, formed by the union of the descriptions they respectively contain. We note that the resulting union may or may not invalidate some constraints:

How to reconcile such accounts is beyond the scope of this specification.

Can the semantics characterize better what can be achieved with structurally well-formed accounts?

8. PROV-DM Collection Constraints

Raw material taken from prov-dm3. Some further text required.

One can have multiple assertions regarding the state of a collection following a set of insertions, for example:

CollectionAfterInsertion(c2, c1, k1, v1)
CollectionAfterInsertion(c2, c1, k2, v2)
...

This is interpreted as " c2 is the state that results from inserting (k1, v1), (k2, v2) etc. into c1"

Shouldn't we have the same for deletion, and combination of insertion and deletion?
It is possible to have multiple derivations from a single root collection, as shown in the following example.
  entity(c, [prov:type="EmptyCollection"])    // e is an empty collection
  entity(v1)
  entity(v2)
  entity(v3)
  entity(c1, [prov:type="Collection"])
  entity(c2, [prov:type="Collection"])
  entity(c3, [prov:type="Collection"])
  
  CollectionAfterInsertion(c1, c, k1, v1)       // c1 = { (k1,v1) }
  CollectionAfterInsertion(c2, c, k2, v2)       // c2 = { (k2 v2) }
  CollectionAfterInsertion(c3, c1, k3,v3)       // c3 = { (k1,v1),  (k3,v3) }
Given the pair of assertions:
CollectionAfterInsertion(c, c1, k1, v1)
CollectionAfterInsertion(c, c2, k2, v2)
it follows that c1==c2.
Original text stated it follows that c1==c2, k1==k2, v1==v2, because one cannot have two different derivations for the same final collection state. This is incompatible with parallel insertion constraint.
Shouldn't we have the same for deletion, and combination of insertion and deletion?
Given the following set of insertions:
CollectionAfterInsertion(c1, c, k, v1)
CollectionAfterInsertion(c1, c, k, v2)
it follows that v1==v2.

The state of a collection is only known to the extent that a chain of derivations starting from an empty collection can be found. Since a set of assertions regarding a collection's evolution may be incomplete, so is the reconstructed state obtained by querying those assertions. In general, all assertions reflect the asserter's partial knowledge of a sequence of data transformation events. In the particular case of collection evolution, in which the asserter knows that some of the state changes may have been missed, then the more generic derivation relation should be used to signal that some updates may have occurred, which cannot be precisely asserted as insertions or removals. The following two examples illustrate this.

  entity(c, [prov:type="collection"])    // e is a collection, possibly not empty
  entity(v1)
  entity(v2, [prov:type="collection"])    // v2 is a collection

  CollectionAfterInsertion(c1, c, k1, v1)       // c1 includes { (k1,v1) } but may contain additional unknown pairs
  CollectionAfterInsertion(c2, c1, k2, v2)      // c2 includes { (k1,v1), (k2 v2) } where v2 is a collection with unknown state
In the example, the state of c2 is only partially known because the collection is constructed from partially known other collections.
  entity(c, [prov:type="emptyCollection"])    // e is an empty collection
  entity(v1)
  entity(v2)

  CollectionAfterInsertion(c1, c, k1, v1)       // c1 = { (k1,v1) }
  wasDerivedFrom(c2, c1)                        // the asserted knows that c2 is somehow derived from c1, but cannot assert the precise sequence of updates
    CollectionAfterInsertion(c3, c2, k2, v2)       

Here c3 includes { (k2 v2) } but the earlier "gap" leaves uncertainty regarding (k1,v1) (it may have been removed) or any other pair that may have been added as part of the derivation activities.

9. Refining Provenance Descriptions

Purely tentative

In this section, we successively review refined provenance descriptions, and examine their meaning, in light of the constraints introduced in this specification.

  1. First, let us consider a small set of three descriptions, including an entity, an agent, and an attribution relation.
    entity(tr:prov-dm)
    agent(w3:Consortium)
    wasAttributedTo(tr:prov-dm,w3:Consortium)
    

    The entity denoted by tr:prov-dm does not contain any attribute besides its identifier. Without any further detail, this entity is simply the resource denoted by tr:prov-dm, whatever its state over time. This resource has multiple versions including tr:WD-prov-dm-20111215 and tr:WD-prov-dm-20111018. Likewise, the second line simply is a description for a resource denoted by w3:Consortium, nothing less, nothing more.

    The third description should be interpreted as: whatever changes entity tr:prov-dm may have gone through, it is always attributed to the w3:Consortium agent.

  2. Second, the descriptions are bundled up as an account with name ex:acc1:
    entity(tr:prov-dm)
    agent(ex:Simon)
    wasAttributedTo(tr:prov-dm,ex:Simon)
    
    and provenance details are available for ex:acc1, namely the generation time for the provenance.
    entity(ex:acc1, [prov:type="AccountEntity"])
    wasGeneratedBy(ex:acc1,,2011-12-15T12:00:00)
    
    What is the meaning here? Is it any different? Are stating anything about newer version of tr:prov-dm that occur after 2011-12-15T12:00:00?
  3. A generation event for tr:prov-dm is provided.
    entity(tr:prov-dm)
    agent(ex:Simon)
    wasGeneratedBy(tr:prov-dm,,2011-12-15T12:00:00)
    wasAttributedTo(tr:prov-dm,ex:Simon)
    
    What is the meaning here? that only the version that was created by this event is attributed to ex:Simon, but not previous ones. This means that it is not specfied whether he was an author in anterior versions.
  4. A destruction event for tr:prov-dm is provided.
    entity(tr:prov-dm)
    agent(ex:Simon)
    wasGeneratedBy(tr:prov-dm,,2011-12-15T12:00:00)
    wasDestroyedBy(tr:prov-dm,,2012-02-02T12:00:00)
    wasAttributedTo(tr:prov-dm,ex:Simon)
    
    Speculative, since we have not defined the destruction event (yet?. What is the meaning here? that only the versions that existed during this characterization interval were attributed to ex:Simon.

A. Acknowledgements

WG membership to be listed here.

B. References

B.1 Normative references

[OWL2-SYNTAX]
Boris Motik; Peter F. Patel-Schneider; Bijan Parsia. OWL 2 Web Ontology Language:Structural Specification and Functional-Style Syntax. 27 October 2009. W3C Recommendation. URL: http://www.w3.org/TR/2009/REC-owl2-syntax-20091027/
[PROV-O]
Satya Sahoo and Deborah McGuinness (eds.) Khalid Belhajjame, James Cheney, Daniel Garijo, Timothy Lebo, Stian Soiland-Reyes, and Stephan Zednik Provenance Formal Model. 2011, Working Draft. URL: http://www.w3.org/TR/prov-o/
[RFC2119]
S. Bradner. Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels. March 1997. Internet RFC 2119. URL: http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2119.txt

B.2 Informative references

[CLOCK]
Lamport, L. Time, clocks, and the ordering of events in a distributed system.Communications of the ACM 21 (7): 558–565. 1978. URL: http://research.microsoft.com/users/lamport/pubs/time-clocks.pdf DOI: doi:10.1145/359545.359563.
[CSP]
Hoare, C. A. R. Communicating Sequential Processes.Prentice-Hall. 1985URL: http://www.usingcsp.com/cspbook.pdf
[Logic]
W. E. JohnsonLogic: Part III.1924. URL: http://www.ditext.com/johnson/intro-3.html
[PROV-AQ]
Graham Klyne and Paul Groth (eds.) Luc Moreau, Olaf Hartig, Yogesh Simmhan, James Meyers, Timothy Lebo, Khalid Belhajjame, and Simon Miles Provenance Access and Query. 2011, Working Draft. URL: http://www.w3.org/TR/prov-aq/
[PROV-DM]
Luc Moreau and Paolo Missier (eds.) ... PART 1: PROV-DM .... 2011, Working Draft. URL: http://www.w3.org/TR/prov-dm/
[PROV-N]
Luc Moreau and Paolo Missier (eds.) ... PROV-N ..... 2011, Working Draft. URL: http://www.w3.org/TR/prov-n/
[PROV-PRIMER]
Yolanda Gil and Simon Miles (eds.) Khalid Belhajjame, Helena Deus, Daniel Garijo, Graham Klyne, Paolo Missier, Stian Soiland-Reyes, and Stephan Zednik Prov Model Primer. 2011, Working Draft. URL: http://www.w3.org/TR/prov-primer/
[PROV-SEM]
James Cheney Formal Semantics Strawman. 2011, Work in progress. URL: http://www.w3.org/2011/prov/wiki/FormalSemanticsStrawman