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An ontological account of flow-control components in BPMN process models

1. Information Retrieval and Knowledge Management Research Lab School of Information Technology, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada;
2. TD Bank Financial Group, 66 Wellington Street ON, M5K 1A2, Canada;
3. Information Retrieval and Knowledge Management Research Lab School of Information Technology, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada

The Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) has been widely adopted in the recent years as one of the standard languages for visual description of business processes. BPMN however does not include a formal semantics, which is required for formal verification and validation of behaviors of BPMN models.
Towards bridging this gap using first-order logic, we in this paper present an ontological/formal account of flow-control components in BPMN, using Situation Calculus and Petri nets. More precisely, we use SCOPE (Situation Calculus Ontology of PEtri nets), developed from our previous work, to formally describe flow-control related basic components (i.e., events, tasks, and gateways) in BPMN as SCOPE-based procedures. These components are first mapped from BPMN onto Petri nets.
Our approach differs from other major approaches for assigning semantics to BPMN (e.g., the ones applying communicating sequential processes, or abstract state machines) in the following aspects. Firstly, the approach supports direct application of automated theorem proving for checking theory consistency or verifying dynamical properties of systems. Secondly, it defines concepts through aggregation of more basic concepts in a hierarchical way thus the adoptability and extensibility of the models are presumably high. Thirdly, Petri-net-based implementation is completely encapsulated such that interfaces between the system and its users are defined completely within a BPMN context. Finally, the approach can easily further adopt the concept of time.
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