W3C W3C Member Submission

Semantic Web Services Ontology (SWSO)

W3C Member Submission 9 September 2005

This version:
http://www.w3.org/Submission/2005/SUBM-SWSF-SWSO-20050909/
Latest version:
http://www.w3.org/Submission/SWSF-SWSO/
Authors:
Steve Battle (Hewlett Packard)
Abraham Bernstein (University of Zurich)
Harold Boley (National Research Council of Canada)
Benjamin Grosof (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Michael Gruninger (NIST)
Richard Hull (Bell Labs Research, Lucent Technologies)
Michael Kifer (State University of New York at Stony Brook)
David Martin (SRI International)
Sheila McIlraith (University of Toronto)
Deborah McGuinness (Stanford University)
Jianwen Su (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Said Tabet (The RuleML Initiative)

Abstract

This document defines the Semantic Web Services Ontology (SWSO). The ontology is expressed in two forms: FLOWS, the First-order Logic Ontology for Web Services; and ROWS, the Rules Ontology for Web Services, produced by a systematic translation of FLOWS axioms into the SWSL-Rules language. FLOWS has been specified in SWSL-FOL, the first-order logic language developed by SWSO's sister SWSL effort.

Status of this document

This document is part of a member submission, offered by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Research Council of Canada, SRI International, Stanford University, Toshiba Corporation, and University of Southampton on behalf of themselves and the authors.

This is one of four documents that make up the submission. These documents define the Semantic Web Services Framework (SWSF). This submission has been prepared by the Semantic Web Services Language Committee of the Semantic Web Services Initiative.

The W3C Team Comment discusses this submission in the context of W3C activities. Public comment on this document is invited on the mailing list public-sws-ig@w3.org (public archive). Announcements and current information may also be available on the SWSL Committee Web site.

By publishing this document, W3C acknowledges that National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Research Council of Canada, SRI International, Stanford University, Toshiba Corporation, and University of Southampton have made a formal submission to W3C for discussion. Publication of this document by W3C indicates no endorsement of its content by W3C, nor that W3C has, is, or will be allocating any resources to the issues addressed by it. This document is not the product of a chartered W3C group, but is published as potential input to the W3C Process. Publication of acknowledged Member Submissions at the W3C site is one of the benefits of W3C Membership. Please consult the requirements associated with Member Submissions of section 3.3 of the W3C Patent Policy. Please consult the complete list of acknowledged W3C Member Submissions.


Table of contents

1 Introduction
2 Service Descriptors
3 Process Model
   3.1 FLOWS-Core
      3.1.1 Service
      3.1.2 Atomic Process
      3.1.3 composedOf
      3.1.4 Message
      3.1.5 Channel
   3.2 Control Constraints
      3.2.1 Split
      3.2.2 Sequence
      3.2.3 Unordered
      3.2.4 Choice
      3.2.5 IfThenElse
      3.2.6 Iterate
      3.2.7 RepeatUntil
   3.3 Ordering constraints
      3.3.1 OrderedActivity
   3.4 Occurrence constraints
      3.4.1 OccActivity
   3.5 State constraints
      3.5.1 TriggeredActivity
   3.6 Exceptions
      3.6.1 State-based Exception Handling
      3.6.2 Message-based Exception Handling
      3.6.3 Extended Exception Handling
4 Grounding a Service Description
   4.1 Relationship between SWSL and WSDL
   4.2 Mapping between SWSL and WSDL
      4.2.1 Message Patterns
      4.2.2 Message Type Realization
      4.2.3 Mapping SWSO Messages to WSDL Messages
      4.2.4 Mapping WSDL Messages to SWSO Messages
      4.2.5 Declarative Specification of SWSO-to-WSDL Message Mapping
      4.2.6 Declarative Specification of WSDL-to-SWSO Message Mapping
5 Rules Ontology for Web Services (ROWS)
6 Background Materials
   6.1 Ontology of the Process Specification Language
   6.2 Knowledge Preconditions and Knowledge Effects
7 Glossary
8 References

Appendices
A PSL in SWSL-FOL and SWSL-Rules
B Axiomatization of the FLOWS Process Model
C Axiomatization of the Process Model in SWSL-Rules
D Reference Grammars

This document also refers to Section 2 in the Application Scenarios document.


1 Introduction

This document is part of the technical report of the Semantic Web Services Language (SWSL) Committee of the Semantic Web Services Initiative (SWSI). The overall structure of the report is described in the document titled Semantic Web Services Framework Overview.

This document presents the Semantic Web Services Ontology (SWSO). This includes a description of the conceptual model underlying the ontology, and a description of a first-order logic (FOL) axiomatization which defines the model-theoretic semantics of the ontology. The axiomatization is called "SWSO-FOL" or equivalently, FLOWS -- the First-order Logic Ontology for Web Services -- and is expressed using SWSL-FOL. (The full axiomatization is available in Appendix B.) As noted in Section 5, These same axioms can be expressed (or partially expressed in some cases) in SWSL-Rules. The SWSL-Rules formalization of the axioms, called SWSO-Rules or ROWS, is listed in Appendix C.

The goal of FLOWS is to enable reasoning about the semantics underlying Web (and other eletronic) services, and how they interact with each other and with the "real world". FLOWS does not strive for a complete representation of web services, but rather for an abstract model that is faithful to the semantic aspects of service behavior. (An approach to "grounding" FLOWS specifications into real Web services, e.g., that use WSDL for messaging, is discussed in Section 4). Following the lead of the situation calculii [Reiter01], and in particular the situation calculus semantics [Narayanan02] of OWL-S [OWL-S 1.1], the changing portions of the real world are modeled abstractly using the notion of fluents. These are first-order logic predicates and terms that can change value over time. The FLOWS model provides infrastructure for representing messages between services; the focus here is on the semantic content of a message, rather than, for example, the specifics of how that content is packaged into an XML-based message payload. (Again, Grounding will address these issues.) FLOWS also provides constructs for modeling the internal processing of Web services.

FLOWS is intended to enable reasoning about essential aspects of Web service behavior, for a variety of different purposes and contexts. Some targeted purposes are to support (a) descriptions of Web services that enable automated discovery, composition, and verification, and (b) creation of declarative descriptions of a Web service, that can be mapped (either automatically or through a systematic process) to executable specifications. A variety of contexts can be supported, including: (i) modelling a service as essentially a black box, where only the messaging is observable; (ii) modelling the internal atomic processes that a service performs, along with the impact these processes have on the real world (e.g., inventories, financial accounts, commitments); (iii) modelling many properties of a service, including all message APIs, all or some of the internal processing, and some or all of the internal process and data flows. Of course, the usability of a Web service description may depend on how much or how little information is included.

It is important to note that the specification of the FLOWS ontology in first-order logic does not presuppose that the automated reasoning tasks described above will be realized using a first-order logic theorem prover. We can certainly use FOL to specify solutions to these tasks, using notions of entailment and satisfiability. Nevertheless, while some tasks may naturally be realized through theorem proving, it has been our experience that most AI automated reasoning tasks are addressed by special-purpose reasoners, rather than by general-purpose reasoners such as theorem provers. For example, we anticipate specialized programs being developed to perform Web service discovery, Web service composition and Web service verification. Thus, the role of FLOWS is not necessarily to provide an executable specification, but rather to provide an ontology -- a definition of concepts -- with a well-defined model theoretical semantics that will enable specification of these tasks and that will support the development of specialized reasoners that may be provably correct with respect to these specifications.

FLOWS captures the salient, functional elements of various models of Web services found in the literature and in industrial standards. In FLOWS, an emphasis is placed on enabling the formal representation and study of the following formalisms, among others.

FLOWS represents an attempt to extend on the work of OWL-S, to incorporate a variety of capabilities not within the OWL-S goals. OWL-S was focussed on providing an ontology of Web services that would facilitate automated discovery, enactment and composition of Web services. It was not focused on interoperating with or providing a semantics for (at its outset, nonexistent) industry process modeling formalisms such as BPEL. As such, OWL-S concepts such as messages are abstracted away and only reintroduced in tis grounding to WSDL. A primary difference between FLOWS and OWL-S is the expressive power of the underlying language. FLOWS is based on first-order logic, which means that it can express considerably more than can be expressed using OWL-DL (upon which OWL-S is based). (For example, this immediately includes n-ary predicates and richly quantified sentences.) The use of first-order logic enables a more refined approach than possible in OWL-S to representing different forms of data flow that can arise in Web services. A second difference is that FLOWS strives to explicitly model more aspects of Web services than OWL-S. This includes primarily the fact that FLOWS can readily model (i) process models using a variety of different paradigms; and (ii) data flow between services, which is acheived either through message passing or access to shared fluents (which might also be thought of as shared data). Indeed, FLOWS provides the ability to model, albeit in an abstract, semantically motivated manner, several key Web services standards, including WSDL, BPEL, and WS-Choreography.

A key premise of FLOWS is that an appropriate foundation for formally describing Web services can be built as a family of PSL extensions. PSL -- the Process Specification Language -- is a formally axiomatized ontology [Gruninger03a, Gruninger03b] that has been standardized as ISO 18629. PSL was originally developed to enable sharing of descriptions of manufacturing processes. FLOWS refines aspects of PSL with Web service-specific concepts and extensions. An overview of concepts in the Process Specification Language that are relevant to FLOWS is given in Section 6 below.

A primary goal of FLOWS is to provide a formal basis for accurately specifying "application domains" based broadly on the paradigms of Web services and/or services oriented architecture (SOA). While FLOWS captures key fundamental aspects of the Web services and SOA paradigms, it also strives to remain very flexible, to allow for the multitude of variations already present in these domains and likely to arise in coming years. Another goal of FLOWS is to enable formalization of a diversity of process modeling formalisms within the ontology. As such, FLOWS, like PSL is designed to facilitate interoperation between diverse process modeling formalisms.

In a typical usage of FLOWS, an application domain is created by combining the FLOWS axioms with additional logical sentences to form a (first order logic) theory. Speaking loosely, each sentence in such a theory can be viewed as a constraint or restriction on the models (in the sense of mathematical logic) that satisfy the theory. In particular, and following the spirit of Golog [Reiter01] and similar languages, even process model constructs such as while or if-then-else correspond formally to constraints rather than procedural elements. Similarly, the passing of information, which is often represented using variable assignment in Web services, is specified in the formal model in epistemic terms, following the approach taken in [Scherl03]. Again, the approach taken here is intended to provide maximal flexibility in terms of formally modeling the wide range of existing and future web services and SOA models. For example, it is possible ot look at data flow and information sharing at an abstract level based on what a service "knows", or to specialize this to models that involve imperative variable assignment.

Following the high-level structure of OWL-S, FLOWS has three major components: Service Descriptors, Process Model, and Grounding. In the formal ontology, these three elements are associated with services by representing a formal service as a conceptual object, and using relations to associate specific artifacts with the service. For example, service-author is a binary relation that associates an author to a service, and service-activity is a binary relation that associates a unique (PSL) "complex activity" to a service; the complex activity provides a partial or complete specification of the process model associated with the service. (See Section 3) below for more detail.)

Most domain ontology developers are motivated to provide a logical description of their Web service with a view to some specific set of automations tasks, including perhaps Web service discovery, invocation, composition, verification or monitoring. Each task requires some subset or view of the entire FLOWS ontology. For example, to perform automated Web service discovery, we might need axioms from both the Service Descriptors, and select axioms from the Process Model. For Web service invocation, we might only need the inputs and outputs of atomic processes comprising a service in FLOWS-Core, and so on. To cross cut our three broad subontologies (Service Descriptors, Process Model, and Grounding) and to create ontologies that are task-specific, it is possible to project views onto the FLOWS ontology. The concept of views is not developed in this document, however.

This document is organized as follows. Service Descriptors are described in Section 2. The Process Model portion of the ontology, described in Section 3, represents the most substantial advance over OWL-S. This section is quite extensive, presenting the core ontology (FLOWS-Core), several formal extensions of it, and a more informal discussion concerning the relationship of FLOWS to other service models. The section also includes an intuitive description of the conceptual model underlying FLOWS, and links to a formal axiomatization of FLOWS (in Appendix B). (Also relevant is Appendix A, which shows how to specify key elements of PSL in both SWSL-FOL and SWSL-Rules). Section 4 discusses grounding for FLOWS. As noted above, (most of) FLOWS can be systematically translated into the SWSL-Rules language; this is discussed in Section 5. (An axiomatization for ROWS is presented in Appendix C). Section 6 provides a brief review of PSL and the approach of [Scherl03] for incorporating knowledge into the situation calculus, for readers who have not been exposed to these before. The document closes with a Glossary (Section 7), and References (Section 8).

The description of FLOWS presented in this document also refers to Section 2 of the document Application Scenarios, that forms part of this W3C submission. That section provides some extended examples which illustrate key aspects of the conceptual model underlying FLOWS.


2 Service Descriptors

Service descriptors provide basic information about a Web service. This descriptive information may include non-functional meta-information and/or provenance information. Service descriptors are often used to support automated Web service discovery. What follows is an initial set of domain-independent properties. Our intention is that these be expanded as needs dictate. Indeed many of the service descriptors that are most effective for service discovery are domain specific.

The initial list captures basic identifying information including name, authorship, textual description, version, etc. The set of descriptors also includes information describing (potentially subjective) notions of quality of service such as reliability. Note that this is an initial set of properties derived predominantly from the OWL-S Profile [OWL-S 1.1]). The set is expected to be extended with properties that are domain specific such as those contained in the OWL-S appendices and those in WSMO's [Bruijn05] coverage service descriptor (or "non-functional property" as it is called in their proposed specification). The set may also be expanded with properties commonly used in other standards such as those found in Dublin Core. In the following list of properties, those properties derived from OWL-S are so noted. Some of these properties are similar or identical to those included in WSMO's list of non-functional properties.

Following the description of each individual property is a listing of the FLOWS relation that captures the concept within the ontology.

  1. Service Name: This refers to the name of the service and may be used as a unique identifier. This corresponds directly to the OWL-S property serviceName. In the future, we may find additional name-related properties to have value such as alternateName (including other synonymous names) and presentationName (including a string that would be presented in user interfaces).
    name(service,service_name)
  2. Service Author: Services could have single or multiple authors. Authors could be people or organizations. This property augments the OWL-S contactInformation property.
    author(service,service_author)
  3. Service Contact Information: This property contains a pointer for people or agents requiring more information about the service. While it could be anything, it is likely to be an email address.
    contact(service,contact_info)
  4. Service Contributor: This property describes the entity that is responsible for making updates to the service. Note that while it is related to the author, it may not be identical to the author since an original author may not be the identified contributor or maintainer of a service. Note also, that while it is related to the contactInformation property, it is not identical since the author, contributor, and contact point may all be distinct entities.
    contributor(service,service_contributor)
  5. Service Description: Services may have a textual description. Typical descriptions would include a summary of what the service offers and any requirements that the service has. This property is simply a renaming of the OWL-S textDescription property.
    description(service,service_description)
  6. Service URL: This property is filled with one (or more) URL's associated with the service. This property is included in order to facilitate interoperation where agents need to count on URLs as values.
    url(service,service_URL)
  7. Service Identifier: This property is filled by an unambiguous reference to the service.
    identifier(service,service_identifier)
  8. Service Version: As with all software programs, there may be multiple versions of services and this property contains an identifier for the specific service at a specific time. This is likely to be a revision number in a source code control system.
    version(service,service_version)
  9. Service Release Date: This property contains a date of the release of the service. It would be anticipated that it would be compatible with Dublin Core's date. It may be used, This is a date of the service so that, for example, to search for services not functions would be able to find services that are not more than 2 years old.
    releaseDate(service,service_release_date)
  10. Service Language: This property contains an identifier for the language of the service. This property is expected to contain an identifier for a logical programming language and could also contain an ISO language tag.
    language(service,service_language)
  11. Service Trust: This property contains an entity describing the trustworthiness of the service.
    trust(service,service_trust)
  12. Service Subject: This property contains an entity indicating the topic of the service.
    subject(service,service_subject)
  13. Service Reliability: This property contains an entity used to indicate the dependability of the service. Different measurements may be useful in determining the fillers such as the number of failures in a given time period.
    reliability(service,service_reliability)
  14. Service Cost: This property contains an entity used to indicate a cost of the service. While it could be a monetary unit, it could also be a complex description of charging plans.
    cost(service,service_cost)

The translation of service descriptors into ROWS can be found here.

Link to ROWS Axiomatization

Readers may also be interested in the discussion of inputs, (conditional) outputs, preconditions and conditional effects of the complex activity that describes the process model of a service. This is discussed towards the end of Subsection 3.1.2.


3 Process Model

Since PSL is a generic ontology for processes, we need to specify extensions to provide concepts that are useful in the context of Web services. In particular, the FLOWS process model adds two fundamental elements to PSL, namely (i) the structured notion of atomic process as found in OWL-S, and (ii) infrastructure for specifying various forms of data flow. (The FLOWS process model relies on constructs already available in PSL for representing basic aspects of process flow, and also provides some extensions for them.)

Following the modular organization of the PSL ontology, the FLOWS process model is layered and partitioned into natural groupings. When specifying an application domain, it is thus easy to incorporate only the ontological building blocks that are needed.

The FLOWS process model is created as a family of extensions of PSL-OuterCore, The fundamental extension of PSL-OuterCore for services is called "FLOWS-Core". As will be seen, this extension is quite minimalist, and provides an abstract representation only for (web) services, their impact "on the world", and the transmission of messages between them.

Figure 3.1 shows various families of process modeling constructs, including PSL-OuterCore, FLOWS-Core, and several others. These include models from standards, such as the process model portion of BPEL (and a refinement of BPEL that incorporates typical assumptions made when using BPEL in practice), and models from the research literature, such as guarded automata. A line between a family F of constructs and a family F' above F indicates that it is natural to view F' as a family that includes most or all of the constructs in F. The OWL-S process model is not shown explicitly in Figure 3.1, because it has been integral in the design of the FLOWS-Core and the Control Constructs extension. Of course, the different families of modeling constructs shown in the figure should not be viewed as comprehensive.

In some cases, it may be useful to create PSL extensions of FLOWS-Core, to formally specify the properties of certain families of constructs shown in Figure 3.1. Indeed, as part of the Process Model of the FLOWS ontology presented below several extensions are specified; these are indicated in the figure by the rectangles above FLOWS-Core. We note that FLOWS-Core can serve as a mathematical foundation for representing several other aspects and models from the Web services and SOA standards and literature, and it seems likely that additional PSL extensions of FLOWS-Core will be created in the future.

Selected families of process modeling constructs

Figure 3.1: Selected families of process modeling constructs relevant to Web services

Following this methodology, the FLOWS process model ontology is composed of a core set of axioms, referred to as FLOWS-Core, and a set of extension ontologies. FLOWS currently consists of six ontology modules that specify core intuitions about the activities associated with a service together with classes of composite activities that are used to express different constraints on the occurrence of services and their subactivities.

The table below lists the FLOWS ontologies and the concepts defined in those ontologies.

The FLOWS Process Model Ontology Modules
Module Major Concepts
FLOWS-Core Service
AtomicProcess
composedOf
message
channel
Control Constraints Split
Sequence
Unordered
Choice
IfThenElse
Iterate
RepeatUntil
Ordering Constraints OrderedActivity
Occurrence Constraints OccActivity
State Constraints TriggeredActivity
Exception Constraints Exception


The specification of concepts in FLOWS is presented using some or all of the following:

After the presentation of FLOWS-Core and its formal extensions, Subsection 3.7 describes some possible additional extensions of FLOWS-Core, corresponding to the entries in Figure 3.1 not enclosed in rectangles.

3.1 FLOWS-Core

The FLOWS-Core process model is intended to provide a formal basis for specifying essentially any process model of Web services and service composition that has arisen or might arise in the future. As such, the underlying conceptual process model focuses on the most essential aspects of Web services and their interaction.

The principles guiding the FLOWS-Core process model can be summarized as follows:

  1. In typical usage of the FLOWS-Core (which follows the spirit of PSL-OuterCore), one creates an application domain theory for a given application domain, which incorporates the predicates, terms, and axioms of FLOWS-Core, along with additional domain-specific predicates, terms and constraints.
  2. Predicates and terms in the underlying first-order logic language of an application domain theory are used as an abstraction of the "world". Following PSL (and the situation calculi), fluents are predicates and terms whose values may change as the result of activity occurrences. We generally use the term relation to refer to a predicate whose value does not change as the result of an activiy occurrence. We informally distinguish between two categories of relations and fluents: domain-specific, which focus on the "real world", or more specifically, on information about the application domain; and service-specific, which focus on the infrastructure used to support the Web services model, in particular on messages and message transmission.
  3. As noted above, a formal service is modeled as a conceptual object, and for each service S there is exactly one associated (PSL-OuterCore) complex activity A. (These are related by the predicate service-activity(?s,?a).) As in PSL, the complex activity A may have one or more occurrences, each of which corresponds intuitively to a possible execution of A (subject to the constraints in the relevant application domain theory). The notion of 'occurrence' of activity A here is essentially the same as the notion of 'enactment' of a workflow specification as found in the workflow literature.) Speaking intuitively, in an application domain theory, the complex acivity A might be specified completely, or only partially. We use the phrase service activity to refer to a PSL complex activity, such as A, that is associated to a formal service in some application domain.
  4. We model the atomic actions involved in service activities as discrete "occurrences" of "atomic activities" (in the sense of PSL-OuterCore). This includes (a) the activities that are "world-changing", in that they modify facts "in the world" (e.g., plane reservations, commitments to ship products, aspects of financial transfer, modification to inventory databases) and also (b) activities that support aspects of transferring messages between Web services, and (c) activities that create, destroy, or modify channels (see below).
  5. Following the spirit of OWL-S, a primary focus in FLOWS-Core is on what are called here (FLOWS) atomic processes; these are atomic activities that have input parameters, output parameters, pre-conditions and conditional effects. The pre-conditions of atomic processes will refer to both fluents and time-invariant relations. The conditional effects of atomic processes can have impact on fluents. In the interest of flexibility, FLOWS-Core does not require that every atomic activity in a service activity be a FLOWS atomic process, nor does FLOWS-Core require that every FLOWS atomic process be a subactivity of a service activity.
  6. The flow of information between Web services can occur in essentially two ways: (a) via message passing and (b) via shared access to the same "real world" fluent (e.g., an inventory database, a reservations database). With regards to message passing, FLOWS-Core models messages as (conceptual) objects that are created and (possibly) destroyed, and that their life-span has a non-zero duration. This follows the spirit of standards such as WSDL and BPEL, the spirit of at least some works on Services Oriented Architecture [Helland05], and indeed the physical reality involved in Web service communication. Messages have types, which indicate the kind of information that they can transmit.
  7. FLOWS-Core includes the channel construct, which provides a convenient mechanism for giving some structure to how messages are transmitted between services. Intuitively, a channel holds messages that have been "sent" and may or may not have been "received". (The notion of 'channel' is inspired by, but not identical to, the notion of 'channel' found in many process algebras; it is also inspired by the notion of channels found in BPEL and elsewhere.) In a given application domain, channels may be used to restrict which service activity occurrences can communicate with which other service activity occurrences, and to impose further structure on the communication via messages (e.g., requiring intuitively that messages are stored in FIFO queues). In an application domain the family of channels might be fixed, or might be dynamically created, destroyed, and/or modified. (Some particular approaches to structuring how messages are passed are provided by the possible extensions named Ordered Channels, Read & Destroy, and FIFO Message Queue; other approaches can also be represented in application domains built on FLOWS-Core.)
  8. To represent the acquisition and dissemination of information inside a Web service we follow the spirit of the ontology for "knowledge-producing actions" developed in [Scherl03], which formed the basis for the situation calculus semantics of OWL-S inputs and effects [Narayanan02]. (Some background on the knowledge-producing actions framework is provided in Subsection 6.2 below). Inputs are conceived as knowledge-preconditions, and outputs as knowledge-effects. That is, the needed input values must be known prior to an occurrence (i.e., execution) of an atomic process. Also, following the occurrence of an atomic process, values of associated outputs are known (assuming appropriate conditions in the conditional effect are satisfied). This treatment of information provides for the use of a notation Knows(P), where P is a logical formula, which has the intuitive meaning in our context that a service activity occurrence "knows" that P is true (at some point in time). This approach provides a declarative basis that enables reasoning about what information is and is not available to a service activity occurrence at a given time. This is essential, since in the real world the mechanisms available to Web services for gathering information are typically limited to (a) receiving messages and (b) performing atomic processes that interact with domain-specific fluents. Further, in a given application domain it is typical to restrict a service so that it can gain access to a specified set of domain-specific relations and fluents. Using FLOWS-Core it will thus be possible to precisely specify and study properties of Web services related to data flow and data access. (In the current axiomatization the epistemic fluents related to Knows intuitively correspond to knowledge held by the overall system. A planned refinement is to relativize these fluents, in order to represent the knowledge of individual service occurrences.)

FLOWS-Core does not provide any explicit constructs for the structuring of processing inside a Web service. (Some minimal constructs are available in PSL OuterCore, including primarily the soo_precedes predicate, which indicates that one atomic activity occurrence in a complex activity occurrence precedes in time another atomic activity occurrence.) This is intentional, as there are several models for the internal processing in the standards and literature (e.g., BPEL, OWL-S Process Model, Roman model, guarded automata model), and many other alternatives besides (e.g., rooted in Petri nets, in process algebras, in workflow models, in telecommunications). We introduce (possible) extensions of FLOWS-Core to represent some of these service-internal process models (e.g., Control Constructs, Roman model, Guarded automata).

When using FLOWS-Core, it is often useful to model humans (and organizations and other non-service agents) as specialized formal services (or combinations of services, corresponding to the different roles that they might play). We are not proposing that all aspects of human behavior can or should be captured using FLOWS-Core constructs, but rather that a useful abstraction of human (and organization) behaviors, in the context of interaction with Web services, is to focus on the message creation/reading activities that humans perform, and on the knowledge that they can convey to other services or obtain from them (via messages). It is typical to assume that humans cannot directly perform atomic processes for testing or directly impacting domain-specific fluents, but must rather achieve that by invoking standard (web) services. For an abstract representation (H, B) of human H with complex activity B, in some cases it is natural to view occurrences of B as relatively short-lived (e.g., corresponding to one session with an on-line book seller), and in other cases to view occurrences of B as long-lived (e.g., the life-long family of interactions between the human and the on-line bookseller). In some cases it might be natural to model a human as embodying several formal services (H_1, B_1), ..., (H_n, B_n), corresponding to different roles that the human might play at different times.

We note that FLOWS-Core can be used to faithfully represent and study service process models that do not include all of the notions just listed. For example, OWL-S focuses on world-changing atomic processes and largely ignores the variations that can arise in connection with message passing. A given application domain can be represented in FLOWS-Core in such a way that the message passing is essentially transparent, so that it provides a faithful simulation of an OWL-S version of the domain. Alternatively, a domain theory can be specified in FLOWS-Core which essentially ignores the ability of atomic processes to modify facts "in the world". Such theories offer the possibility of faithfully simulating domains defined in terms of standards such as WSDL, BPEL, and WS-Choreography, which focus largely on service I/O signatures, and the process and data flow involved with message passing.

In the remainder of this subsection we provide more detail concerning the major concepts of FLOWS-Core.

3.1.1 Service

A service is an object. Associated with a service are a number of service descriptors, as described in Section 2. Also associated with every service is an activity that specifies the process model of the service. We call these activities service activities. These service activities are PSL activities. A service occurrence is an occurrence of the activity that is associated with the service.

We associate three relations with services:

service(thing)
service_activity(service,activity)
service_occurrence(service,activity_occurrence)

Link to Axiomatization

Readers may also be interested in the discussion of inputs, (conditional) outputs, preconditions and conditional effects of the complex activity that describes the process model of a service. This is discussed towards the end of the next subsection.

3.1.2 Atomic Process

A fundamental building block of the FLOWS process model for Web services is the concept of an atomic process. An atomic process is a PSL activity that is generally (but not mandated to be) a subactivity of the activity associated with a service (i.e., the activity referenced in the relation service_activity(service,activity) introduced in Section 3.1.1). An atomic process is directly invocable, has no subprocesses and can be executed in a single step. Such an activity can be used on its own to describe a simple Web service, or it can be composed with other atomic or composite processes (i.e., complex activities) in order to provide a specification of a process workflow. The composition is encoded as ordering constraints on atomic processes using the FLOWS control constructs described in Section 2.2.2. Associated with an atomic process are zero or more parameters that capture the inputs, outputs, preconditions and (conditional) effects (IOPEs) of the atomic process. More on IOPEs in a moment.

Types of Atomic Processes

In FLOWS we use atomic processes to model both the domain-specific activities associated with a service, such as put_in_cart(book) or checkout(purchases), but also the atomic processes associated with producing, reading and destroying the messages that are sent between Web services. We distinguish these categories of atomic processes as follows:

  1. Domain-specific Atomic Process: Intuitively, this kind of atomic process is focused on accessing and possibly modifying domain-specific relations and fluents. It is not able to directly manipulate messages or channels, or in other words, it cannot access or modify the service-specific relations and fluents concerned with messages or channels. In particular, this kind of activity is intended to model exclusively (a) the knowledge that a process needs to execute (i.e., the input parameter values), (b) the pre-conditions about domain-specific relations and fluents that must hold for successful execution, (c) the impact the execution of the activity has on domain-specific fluents, and (d) the knowledge acquired by execution (from the output parameter value s, and from whether the execution was successful or not). Occurrences of activities of this kind do not include anything concerning messages -- no producing, reading or destroying of them. (The occurrences may implicitly rely on previous message handling activities, e.g., because it uses for its input knowledge that was acquired by previously reading a message.)
  2. Produce_Message: Occurrences of activities of this kind create a new message object. If a channel is used for the transmission of this message, then immediately after the message is produced it will be present in that channel. An epistemic pre-condition for producing the message will be that appropriate values are "known" by the service occurrence for populating the parameter values of the message. (In some domains, another pre-condition on producing a message will be that there is "room" in some channel or queue that is used to model the message transmission system.)
  3. Read_Message: Occurrences of activities of this kind are primarily knowledge producing. Specifically, immediately after a Read_Message occurrence information about the payload of the message will be known. Thus, there is a close correspondence between the treatment of output values from a domain-specific atomic process, and the treatment of the payload of a message resulting from a Read_Message occurrence.
  4. Destroy_Message: Occurrences of activities of this kind have the effect of destroying a message; after that time the message cannot be read.
  5. Channel Manipulation Atomic Processes are used to create and destroy channels, and to modify their properties (what services can serve as source or target for the channel, and what message types can be transmitted across them). These are discussed briefly in Section 3.1.5 below.

In the FLOWS ontology, the message-specific atomic activities are distinguished by the following unary relations.

Produce_Message(atomic_process)
Read_Meassage(atomic_process)
Destroy_Message(atomic_process)

where atomic_process is an a FLOWS atomic process.

Atomic Process IOPEs

Associated with each atomic process are (multiple) input, output, precondition and (conditional) effect parameters (IOPEs). The inputs and outputs are the inputs and outputs to the program that realizes the atomic process. The preconditions are any conditions that must be true of the world for the atomic process to be executed. In most cases, there will be no precondition parameters since most software (and Web services are generally software) has no physical preconditions for execution, at least at the level at which we are modeling it. Finally, the conditional effects of the atomic process are the side effects of the execution of the atomic process. They are conditions in the world that are true following execution of the process, e.g., that a client's account was debited, or a book sent to a particular address. These effects, may be conditional, since they may be predicated on some state of the world (for example, whether a book is in stock).

In the FLOWS ontology, IOPEs are associated with an atomic process via the following binary and ternary relation. The inputs and outputs of an atomic process are represented by functional fluents that take on a particular value e.g.bookname(book)="Green Eggs and Ham". We acknowledge that the actual input may be conveyed to the atomic process (e.g., as a result of a read-message process or via some internal communication) as rich structured data, but it is ultimately representable within our ontology as a conjunction of its component fluent parts. The preconditions and effects of an atomic process are expressed as arbitrary first-order logic formulae. Since formulae are not reified in FLOWS (note that fluents are reified, and further that formulae are reified in SWSL-Rules), we must associate a relational fluent with each formula we wish to represent in our IOPE relations. This fluent is true iff the formula we associate it with is true. We use this `trick' both for preconditions, for effects and for the conditions associated with conditional outputs and conditional effects. In the case where an output or effect is unconditional, the condition fluent is true.

input(atomic_process, input_fluent)
output(atomic_process, cond_formula_fluent, output_fluent)
precond(atomic_process, precond_formula_fluent)
effect(atomic_process, cond_formula_fluent,effect_formula_fluent)

where

These relations have also been systematically translated into ROWS, the SWSL-Rules ontology, as described in Section 2.5.

Formal models of software often include the inputs and outputs of the software, but not their side effects. Formal models of processes, such as those used in manufacturing or robotics, generally model physical preconditions and effects, but not inputs and outputs. To relate IOPEs in FLOWS, we intepret the inputs and (conditional) outputs of an atomic process as knowledge preconditions and knowledge effects [Scherl03], respectively, following [McIlraith01], [Narayanan02]. Our axiomatization of atomic processes makes explicit that if a fluent is an input (output, respectively) of an atomic process then it is a knowledge precondition (effect, respectively) of that process. Despite PSL's underpinnings in situation calculus, there is no explicit treatment of epistemic fluents (knowledge fluents). As such, included in the axiomatization of FLOWS-Core are the axioms for epistemic fluents.

Link to Axiomatization

Domain-Specific Axioms for Atomic Processes

Earlier in this section, we identified 5 classes of atomic processes. The atomic processes associated with messages and channels are discussed further in subsection sections relating specifically to messages and channels. Here we discuss the axiomatization of domain-specific atomic processes.

Domain-specific atomic processes are domain specific and as such are not part of the FLOWS ontology per se. Nevertheless, FLOWS imposes a syntactic form on the axioms that comprise a domain-specific axiomatization of an atomic process. Below we provide a reference grammar for the axioms associated with inputs, outputs preconditions and effects. In practice, we do not expect users of FLOWS to write these axioms, but rather to provide a specification of salient features of their process IOPEs using a high-level process description syntax that is then compiled into the syntactically correct FLOWS axioms. The syntax we propose is below, followed by the reference grammar.

Process Description Syntax

The IOPEs for atomic processes may be specified using the following presentation syntax. Note that both outputs and effects may be conditional. The BNF grammar below, captures this. A psuedo_state_formula is a state formula whose occurrence argument is suppressed. Non-fluent formulae in psuedo_state_formulas may be differentiated by prefixing the relation name with an asterisk (*).

< atomicprocess_name > {
      Atomic
      input < input_fluent_name >
      output < output_fluent_name > | < psuedo_state_formula >
 < output_fluent_name >
      precondition < psuedo_state_formula >
      effect < psuedo_state_formula > | < psuedo_state_formula >
; < psuedo_state_formula >
}

Reference Grammar

Walking Through an Example

Process Description Syntax
Here is the presentation syntax for an atomic process called simple_buy_book. It has two inputs, client_id and book_name, and three outputs: i) a confirmation of the request, ii) the book price, if the book is in stock, and iii) an order rejection, if the book is out of stock. This simple atomic process also has one effect. The atomic process will debit the client's account (assumed to be on file and accessible through the client_id) by the price of the book, if the book is in stock. Note that as with the majority of non-device Web services, there are no (physical) preconditions associated with the execution of that atomic process. The process must merely know its inputs in order to execute.

simple_buy_book   {
    Atomic
    input client_id
    input book_name
    output request_confirm(client_id,book_name)
    output (name(book,book_name) and in_stock(book)) price(book)
    ouptput (name(book,book_name) and not in_stock(book)) reject(client_id,book_name)
    effect (name(book,book_name) and in_stock(book)) debit(client_id,price(book))
}

Domain-Specific Axiomatization
The process description syntax is manually or automatically compiled into the following input and output relations:

    
    input(simple_buy_book, client_id)
    input(simple_buy_book, book_name)
    output(simple_buy_book, true, request_confirm(client_id,book_name))
    output(simple_buy_book, condition1(book_name), price(book))
    output(simple_buy_book, condition2(book_name), reject(client_id,book_name))
    effect(simple_buy_book, condition1(book_name),debit(client_id,price(book))

In order to avoid reifying formulae, we associate a unique fluent with the condition formula of an output or effect, so that we may talk about it in the relations output and effect.

forall ?occ,?booknm,?book
   ((condition1(?booknm,?occ) ==> (name(?book,?booknm) and in_stock(?book, ?occ))) and 
   (name(?book,?booknm) and in_stock(?book,?occ)) ==> condition1(?booknm,?occ))

forall ?occ,?booknm,?book
   ((condition2(?booknm,?occ) ==> (name(?book,?booknm) and not in_stock(?book,?occ))) and 
   (name(?book,?booknm) and in_stock(?book,?occ)) ==> condition2(?booknm,?occ))

Following the reference grammar, the IOPEs declared in the presentation syntax are manually and automatically compiled into IOPE axioms according to the reference grammar.

Input Axioms, i.e., Knowledge-Precondition Axioms

Each input fluent becomes a knowledge precondition of the occurrence of the simple_buy_book atomic process. Note that there are no non-knowledge preconditions to the execution of this atomic process.

forall ?occ,?clientid,?booknm,?book
    (occurrence_of(?occ,simple_buy_book(?clientid,?booknm)) and legal(?occ)
    ==>
      (holds(Kref(book_name(?s)),?occ) and holds(Kref(client_id(?s)),?occ))

Effect Axiom

The sole effect of execution of this atomic process is that the client's account will be debited, if the book is in stock.

forall ?occ,?clientid,?booknm,?book
    (occurrence_of(?occ,simple_buy_book(?clientid,?booknm)) and
    name(?book,?booknm) and prior(in_stock(?book,?occ)
    ==>
      holds(debit(?clientid,price(?book,?s,?occ)),?occ)

Output Axioms, i.e., Knowledge-Effect Axioms

A confirmation request is an unconditional output of the simple_buy_book atomic process.

forall ?occ,?clientid,?booknm,?book
    occurrence_of(?occ,simple_buy_book(?clientid,?booknm))
    ==>
      holds(Kref(request_confirm(?clientid,?booknm)),?occ)

If the book is in stock, then the price of the book will be an output, i.e., a knowledge effect of the simple_occ_book atomic process.

forall ?occ,?clientid,?booknm,?book
    (occurrence_of(?occ,simple_buy_book(?clientid,?booknm)) and
    name(?book,?booknm) and prior(in_stock(?book,?occ))
    ==>
      holds(Kref(price(?book)),?occ)

If the book is not in stock, then an order rejection message is output. It is a knowledge effect of the simple_occ_book atomic process.

forall ?occ,?clientid,?booknm,?book
    (occurrence_of(?occ,simple_buy_book(?clientid,?booknm)) and
    name(?book,?booknm) and not prior(in_stock(?book,?occ)))
    ==>
      holds(Kref(reject(?clientid,?booknm)),?occ)

Building on this introduction, the example in Section 2.1 of the Application Scenarios document describes a simple hypothetical service that involves several domain-specific and message-handling atomic processes. Application Scenario Example 2.1(a) illustrates, at a high level, how the sequences of atomic process occurrences in an occurrence (execution) of the overall system might be constrained by the FLOWS-Core ontology axioms and an application domain theory.

Service IOPEs

Service IOPEs, or more accurately, the IOPEs of the complex activity associated with a service, are not formally defined. Inputs, outputs, preconditions and effects are only specified for atomic processes. Nevertheless, for a number of automation tasks, including automated Web service discovery, enactment and composition, it may be compelling to consider the inputs, outputs, preconditions and effects of the complex activity that describes the full process model of the service, service_activity(service,activity). In some cases, these properties may be inferred from the IOPEs of the constituent atomic processes, producing IOPEs conditional on the control constraints defining the service. As an alternative to repeated inference, these computed IOPEs may be added to the representation of the complex activity defining the service.

We provide a means for the axiomatizer to define the IOPEs of a complex activity, using the relations and process description syntax described above for atomic processes. Note that these relations are merely descriptive and though it is desirable, the ontology does not mandate that they reflect the IOPEs of their constituent atomic processes.

The IOPEs for complex activities are systematically translated into ROWS using the SWSL-Rules language. They are commonly used for Web service discovery.

Link to ROWS Axiomatization for IOPEs.

3.1.3 composedOf

In general, the activity associated with a service can be decomposed into subactivities associated with other services, and constraints can be specified on the ordering and conditional execution of these subactivities. The composedOf relation specifies how one activity is decomposable into other activities.

Link to Axiomatization

3.1.4 Message

A key aspect of several Web services standards, including WSDL, BPEL, and WS-Choreography, is the explicit representation and use of messages. This fundamental approach to modeling data flow is largely absent from OWL-S. To enable the direct study of the semantic implications of messages, they are modeled as explicit objects in the FLOWS-Core ontology.

(Although messages are represented as explicit objects, it is nevertheless possible with FLOWS to create an application domain in which the messaging is transparent. This might be done by incorporating specific constraints into the application domain, or by using a views mechanism.)

Associated with messages are message_type and payload (or "body"), and perhaps other attributes and properties. Messages are produced by atomic processes occurrences of kind Produce_Message. Every message has a message_type, which is again an object in the FLOWS ontology. As detailed below, these message types will be associated with one or more (abstract) functional fluents, which, intuitively speaking, will provide information on how the payloads of messages of a given message type impact the knowledge of the service activity occurrences reading the message, and the knowledge pre-conditions of the service attempting to produce the message. FLOWS-Core is agnostic about the form of message type itself. It could be an XML datatype, a database schema, or an OWL-like class description of a complex object.

Information about messages can be represented in FLOWS-Core using a 3-ary relation message_info.

   message_info(msg, msg_type, payload)
  

where

An important property of messages, which is captured in the axiomatization of FLOWS-Core, is that the type and payload value associated with a message are immutable. This is suggested by the fact that messages_info is a relation rather than a fluent -- the tuples in relation messages_info are not time-varying. (At first glance, the reader may find this counter-intuitive: If a message is created and destroyed through time, then how can information about its payload be fixed or known "before" and "after" the message's existence? The answer is that an interpretation of a FLOWS-Core theory holds information about the full history of the set of possible occurrences (executions) of the application domain being modelled. From that perspective, which is "outside" of the time modeled in the domain, the relationship between a given message object and its payload is independent of the creation and destruction times of the message.)

In FLOWS-Core there are three relations which relate atomic process occurrences to the messages they access or manipulate.

 produces(o,msg), reads(o,msg), destroy_message(o,msg)
  

where

(Additional constraints may apply to these activities if channels are in use. This is considered in the next subsection.)

Since FLOWS-Core does not commit to the form of message types, but only to the kinds of information that they can convey, FLOWS-Core includes a 2-ary relation described_by.

  described_by(msg_type, io_fluent)
  

where

Analogous to the treatment of the inputs and outputs of domain-specific atomic processes, the io_fluent(s) associated with message types are constrained by the domain theory to correspond to appropriate values at the times when a message of given type is being produced or read. In this way, the relation described_by aids in defining the knowledge effects of a Read_Message activity as well as the knowledge pre-conditions that are present for a Produce_Message atomic process.

A Produce_Message atomic process occurrence has the effect of creating a message (and possibly its placement on a channel). The payload (or "body") of the message, in many cases, is some or all of the output of some previous atomic process occurrence. Indeed, a knowledge pre-condition for producing a message will be knowing the values needed to populate this payload. This knowledge might be derived from parts or all of the outputs (knowledge effects) of several previous domain-specific and/or read-message atomic process occurrences. In the case of communication between services, reading a message containing particular io_fluent(s), establishes that subsequently this io_fluent is known (to the service occurrence that read the message). As such the io_fluent(s) can be used to establish the knowledge preconditions of another atomic process occurrence. Once again, establishment of knowledge preconditions and effects is domain-specific, and thus is not within the purview of the FLOWS ontology. Rather, we provide a reference grammar for the Produce_Message and Read_Message atomic processes, which is consistent with the reference grammar for Atomic Process.

In many models of Web services found in the standards and the research literuature, if a message is read by some service then it is not available to be read by any other service. Because of the separation of the Read_Message and Destroy_Message atomic processes, FLOWS-Core is more general than those models. In particular, in some application domains, many service activity occurrences can read a message before it is "destroyed".

As noted previously, the example of Section 2.1 (in the Application Scenarios document) illustrates the notions of domain-specific and message-handling atomic processes. Example 2.1(b) there illustrates in particular how constraints on the relationships of domain-specific atomic prcesses can be used to infer, in the context of an occurrence of the overall system, that messages with certain characteristics must have been transmitted. The example of Section 2.2 provides additional illustrations of message-handling atomic processes.

Since messages are read, produced and destroyed via atomic processes, the production, reading and destruction of messages may be explicitly encoded by a domain axiomatizer, as special atomic processes, following the syntax for atomic process axioms described in the Reference Grammar above. Nevertheless, the FLOWS ontology is sufficiently expressive that the existence of necessary activity occurrences related to messages can be inferred from the axiomatization. This illustrates one aspect of the power of the FLOWS ontology.

Link to Axiomatization

3.1.5 Channel

As noted before, channels are objects in the FLOWS-Core ontology, used as an abstraction related to message-based communication between Web services. Intuitively, a channel holds messages that have been "sent" and may or may not have been "received". In FLOWS-Core, there is no requirement that a message has to be "sent" using a channel. However, it the message is associated with a channel, then it must satisfy a variety of axioms.

The notion of 'channel' is inspired by, but not identical to, the notion of 'channel' found in many process algebras. It is typical in process algebras that the act of transmitting a message m via a channel involves two simultaneous actions, in which one process sends m and another process that receives m. In the basic notion of channels provided in FLOWS-Core there is no requirement for this form of simultaneity.

In FLOWS-Core, messages in transit may be associated with at most one channel (corresponding intuitively to the idea that the message is being sent across that channel). As part of an application domain, a channel might be associated with a single source service and single target service, or might have multiple sources and/or targets.

Channels might be pre-defined, i.e., included in the definition of an application domain. Or channels can be created/destroyed "on the fly" by atomic process occurrences in an application domain. For this reason, fluents are used to hold most of the information about channels.

We now introduce the fluents of FLOWS-Core that are used to hold information about channels and their associated messages. Three of the fluents are

 channel_source(c,s), channel_target(o,s'), channel_mtype(o,msg_type)
  

where

The fourth fluent for channels in FLOWS-Core is

 channel_mobject(c,msg)
  

where

As noted above, FLOWS-Core provides the possibility that channels can be created and destroyed. This might be accomplished by (i) services which correspond to human administrators, (ii) specialized, automated services which have essentially an administrative role, (iii) ordinary Web services, or (iv) atomic processes which are not associated with any service. In any of these cases, the following kinds of atomic processes are supported.

  1. Create_Channel
  2. Add_Channel_Source
  3. Add_Channel_Target
  4. Add_Channel_MType
  5. Delete_Channel_Source
  6. Delete_Channel_Target
  7. Delete_Channel_MType
  8. Destroy_Channel

In most cases these have straight-forward semantics. In the case of destroying a channel, all messages on that channel are viewed as simultaneously "destroyed".

An illustration involving the dynamic creation and modification of channels is provided in Section 2.2(d) (in the Application Scenarios document)

Channels are not required to exist; however, if they do exist, then they satisfy the following constraints:

Link to Axiomatization

3.2 Control Constraints

Most Web services cannot be modeled as simple atomic processes. They are better modeled as complex activities that are compositions of other activities (e.g., other complex activities and/or atomic processes). The Control Constraints extension to FLOWS-Core provides a set of workflow or programming language style control constructs (e.g., sequence, if-then-else, iterate, repeat-until, split, choice, unordered) that provide a means of specifying the behavior of Web services as a composition of activities. Control constraints impose constraints on the evolution of the complex activity they characterize. As such, specifications may be partial or complete. Reflecting some of PSL's underpinnings in the situation calculus, and by extension Golog, these control constructs follow the style of Web service modeling of atomic and composite processes presented in [McIlraith01] and [OWL-S 1.1].

3.2.1 Split

The subactivity occurrences of a Split activity are partially ordered, such that every linear extension of the ordering corresponds to a branch of the activity tree for the Split activity.

Link to Axiomatization

Link to Reference Grammar
Process descriptions for Split activities specify the subactivity occurrences whose ordering is constrained by two relations from the PSL Ontology: soo_precedes (which imposes a linear ordering on subactivity occurrences) and strong_parallel (which allows all possible linear orderings on subactivity occurrences).

Process Description Syntax

< activity_name > {
Split
occurrence < subocc_varname > < subactivity_name >
< subocc_varname1 > soo_precedes < subocc_varname2 >
< subocc_varname1 > strong_parallel < subocc_varname2 >
}

Examples

buy_product(?Buyer) {
Split
occurrence ?occ1 transfer(?Fee,?Buyer,?Broker)
occurrence ?occ2 transfer(?Cost,?Buyer,?Seller)
?occ1 strong_parallel ?occ2
}
forall ?y split(buy_product(?y))

forall ?occ,?Buyer
occurrence_of(?occ,buy_product(?Buyer)) ==>
(exists ?occ1,?occ2,?Fee,?Cost,?broker,?Seller
occurrence_of(?occ1,transfer(?Fee,?Buyer,?Broker)) and
occurrence_of(?occ2 transfer(?Cost,?Buyer,?Seller)) and
subactivity_occurrence(?occ1,?occ) and
subactivity_occurrence(?occ2,?occ) and
strong_parallel(?occ1,?occ2))

3.2.2 Sequence

The subactivity occurrences of a Sequence activity are totally ordered (that is, the activity tree for the activity contains a unique branch).

Link to Axiomatization

Reference Syntax
Process descriptions for Sequence activities specify the subactivity occurrences whose ordering is constrained by one relations from the PSL Ontology: soo_precedes (which imposes a linear ordering on subactivity occurrences).

Process Description Syntax

< activity_name > {
Sequence
occurrence < subocc_varname > < subactivity_name >
< subocc_varname1 > soo_precedes < subocc_varname2 >
}

Examples

transfer(?Amount,?Account1,?Account2) {
Sequence
occurrence ?occ1 withdraw(?Amount,?Account1)
occurrence ?occ2 withdraw(?Amount,?Account2)
?occ1 soo_precedes ?occ2
}
forall ?x,?y,?z sequence(transfer(?x,?y,?z))

forall ?occ
occurrence_of(?occ,transfer(?Amount,?Account1,?Account2)) ==>
(exists ?occ1,?occ2
occurrence_of(?occ1,withdraw(?Amount,?Account1)) and
occurrence_of(?occ2,deposit(?Amount,?Account2)) and
subactivity_occurrence(?occ1,?occ) and
subactivity_occurrence(?occ2,?occ) and
soo_precedes(?occ1,?occ2,transfer(?Amount,?Account1,?Account2))

3.2.3 Unordered

The subactivity occurrences of a Split activity are partially ordered, such that all subactivities are incomparable and every linear extension of the ordering corresponds to a branch of the activity tree.

Link to Axiomatization

Reference Syntax
Process descriptions for Unordered activities specify the subactivity occurrences of the activity.

Process Description Syntax

< activity_name > {
Unordered
occurrence < subocc_varname > < subactivity_name >
}

Examples

ConferenceTravel {
Unordered
occurrence ?occ1 book_flight
occurrence ?occ2 book_hotel
occurrence ?occ3 register
}
Unordered(ConferenceTravel)

forall ?occ
occurrence_of(?occ,ConferenceTravel) ==>
(exists ?occ1,?occ2,?occ3
bag(?occ) and
occurrence_of(?occ1,book_flight) and
occurrence_of(?occ2,book_hotel) and
occurrence_of(?occ3,register) and
subactivity_occurrence(?occ1,?occ) and
subactivity_occurrence(?occ2,?occ) and
subactivity_occurrence(?occ3,?occ))

3.2.4 Choice

A Choice activity is a nondeterministic activity in which only one of the subactivities occurs.

Link to Axiomatization

Reference Syntax
Process descriptions for Choice activities specify the subactivity occurrences of the activity.

Process Description Syntax

< activity_name > {
Choice
occurrence < subocc_varname > < subactivity_name >
}

Examples

travel(?Destination) {
Choice
occurrence ?occ1 book_flight(?Destination)
occurrence ?occ2 book_train(?Destination)
}
forall ?x choice(travel,?x)

forall ?occ,?Destination
occurrence_of(?occ,travel(?Destination)) ==>
((exists ?occ1
occurrence_of(?occ1,(book_flight,?Destination)) and
subactivity_occurrence(?occ1,?occ))
or
(exists ?occ2
occurrence_of(?occ2,(book_train,?Destination)) and
subactivity_occurrence(?occ2,?occ)))

3.2.5 IfThenElse

An IfThenElse activity is a nondeterministic activity such that the subactivity which occurs depends on the state condition that holds prior to the activity occurrence.

Link to Axiomatization

Reference Syntax
Process descriptions for IfThenElse activities consist state constraints on the subactivity occurrences of the activity. Each constraint specifies a state condition and the subactivity that occurs when the state condition is satisfied.

Process Description Syntax


< activity_name > {
IfThenElse
if < state_formula > then occurrence < subocc_varname > < subactivity_name >
}

Examples

travel(?Destination, ?Account)	{
IfThenElse
if greater(budget_balance(?Account),1000) then occurrence ?occ1 book_deluxe(?Destination)
if greater(1001,budget_balance(?Account)) then occurrence ?occ2 book_economy(?Destination)
}
forall ?x IfThenElse(travel,?x)

forall ?occ,?Destination
(occurrence_of(?occ,travel(?Destination) and
prior(greater(budget_balance(?Account),1000),?occ))
==>
(exists ?occ1
occurrence_of(?occ1,book_deluxe(?Destination)) and
subactivity_occurrence(?occ1,?occ))

forall ?occ,?Destination
(occurrence_of(?occ,travel(?Destination) and
prior(greater(1000,budget_balance(?Account)),?occ))
==>
(exists ?occ2
(occurrence_of(?occ2,book_economy(?Destination)) and
subactivity_occurrence(?occ2,?occ))

3.2.6 Iterate

An Iterate activity, is composed of a subactivity that occurs an indeterminate number of times.

Link to Axiomatization

Reference Syntax
Process descriptions for Iterate activities specify the subactivity occurrences of the activity.

Process Description Syntax

< activity_name > {
Iterate
occurrence < subocc_varname > < subactivity_name >
}

Examples

3.2.7 RepeatUntil

In a RepeatUntil activity, there are repeated occurrences of the subactivity until the state condition holds.

Link to Axiomatization

Link to Reference Syntax
Process descriptions for RepeatUntil activities specify the subactivity occurrences of the activity, and the state condition that constrains the end of the occurrence of the activity.

Process Description Syntax

< activity_name > {
Iterate
while < state_formula > then occurrence < subocc_varname > < subactivity_name >
}

Examples

3.3 Ordering constraints

The intent of this extension is to provide a family of simple constraints based on sequencing properties of atomic processes. This enables succinct specification of requirements such as that payment must be received before shipping.

3.3.1 OrderedActivity

Any branch of the activity tree of an OrderedActivity satisfies the ordering constraints in the process description.
Note that this is weaker than the Control Constraints, since there may exist sequences of subactivity occurrences that satisfy the ordering constraints but which do not correspond to branches of the activity tree for an OrderedActivity.

Link to Axiomatization

Reference Syntax
Process descriptions for OrderedActivity specify the subactivity occurrences and sentences using the basic ordering relation min_precedes that is axiomatized in the PSL Ontology.

Process Description Syntax

The presentation syntax provides three constructs that facilitate the specification of ordering constraints:

< activity_name > {
OrderedActivity
occurrence < subocc_varname > < subactivity_name >
< subocc_varname1 > ; < subocc_varname2 >
< subocc_varname1 > , < subocc_varname2 >
! < subocc_varname >
}

Examples

  1. In each path in the activity tree for S that contains an occurrence of a and an occurrence of b, the subactivity a occurs before the subactivity b.
    Activity1 {
    OrderedActivity
    occurrence ?occ1 a
    occurrence ?occ2 b
    ?occ1 ; ?occ2
    }
    forall ?occ,?occ1,?occ2
    (occurrence_of(?occ,S) and
    occurrence_of(?occ1,a) and
    occurrence_of(?occ2,b) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ1,?occ) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ2,?occ))
    ==>
    min_precedes(?occ1,?occ2,S)
  2. In each path in the activity tree for S, if there is an occurrence of a and sometime after the occurrences of b and c are partially ordered.
    Activity2 {
    OrderedActivity
    occurrence ?occ1 a
    occurrence ?occ2 b
    occurrence ?occ3 c
    ?occ1 ; (?occ2 , ?occ3)
    }
    forall ?occ,?occ1,?occ2
    (occurrence_of(?occ,S) and
    occurrence_of(?occ1,a) and
    occurrence_of(?occ2,b) and
    occurrence_of(?occ2,c) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ1,?occ) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ2,?occ))
    ==>
    (min_precedes(?occ1,?occ2,S) and
    min_precedes(?occ1,?occ3,?S))
  3. In each path in the activity tree for S, there is an occurrence of a and sometime after there then: (i) there is an occurrence of b and a later occurrence of c, and also (ii) there is an occurrence of d and later an occurrence of e.
    Activity3 {
    OrderedActivity
    occurrence ?occ1 a
    occurrence ?occ2 b
    occurrence ?occ3 c
    occurrence ?occ2.d
    occurrence ?occ5 e
    ?occ1 ; ?occ2
    ?occ2 ; ?occ3
    ?occ1 ; ?occ2.
    ?occ2.; ?occ5
    }
    forall ?occ,?occ1,?occ2,?occ3,?occ2.?occ5
    (occurrence_of(?occ,S) and
    occurrence_of(?occ1,a) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ1,?occ) and
    occurrence_of(?occ2,b) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ2,?occ) and
    occurrence_of(?occ3,c) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ3,?occ) and
    occurrence_of(?occ2.d) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ2.?occ) and
    occurrence_of(?occ5,e) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ5,?occ))
    ==> (min_precedes(?occ1,?occ2,S) and
    min_precedes(?occ2,?occ3,S) and
    min_precedes(?occ1,?occ2.S) and
    min_precedes(?occ2.?occ5,S))
  4. In each path in the activity tree for S, there is no occurrence of b after the occurrence of a.
    Activity5 {
    OrderedActivity
    occurrence ?occ1 a
    occurrence ?occ2 b
    ?occ1 ; ! ?occ2
    }
    forall ?occ,?occ1,?occ2
    (occurrence_of(?occ,S) and
    occurrence_of(?occ1,?a) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ1,?occ) and
    occurrence_of(?occ2,b) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ2,?occ))
    ==> (not min_precedes(?occ1,?occ2,S))

3.4 Occurrence constraints

The intent of this extension is to make it easy to specify constaints requiring that there are indeed occurrences of certain activities, e.g., payments, or the transmission of certain messages.

3.4.1 OccActivity

Any branch of the activity tree of an OccActivity satisfies the occurrence constraints on subactivities.

Link to Axiomatization

Reference Syntax
Process descriptions for OccActivity are sentences that specify the existence or nonexistence of subactivity occurrences within occurrences of the activity.

Process Description Syntax
The presentation syntax provides three constructs that facilitate the specification of occurrence constraints:

< activity_name > {
OccActivity
occurrence < subocc_varname > < subactivity_name >
< subocc_varname1 > & < subocc_varname2 >
< subocc_varname1 > + < subocc_varname2 >
~ < subocc_varname >
}

Examples

  1. In each path in the activity tree for S, there is an occurrence of a and an occurrence of b.
    Activity1 {
    OccActivity
    occurrence ?occ1 a
    occurrence ?occ2 b
    ?occ1 & ?occ2
    }
    forall ?occ
    occurrence_of(?occ,S) ==>
    (exists ?occ1,?occ2
    occurrence_of(?occ1,a) and
    occurrence_of(?occ2,b) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ1,?occ) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ2,?occ))
  2. In each path in the activity tree for S, there is an occurrence of a and either an occurrence of b or an occurrence of c.
    Activity2 {
    OccActivity
    occurrence ?occ1 a
    occurrence ?occ2 b
    occurrence ?occ3 c
    ?occ1 & (?occ2 + ?occ3)
    }
    forall ?occ
    occurrence_of(?occ,S) ==>
    (exists ?occ1
    occurrence_of(?occ1,a) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ1,?occ) and
    (exists ?occ2
    occurrence_of(?occ2,b) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ2,?occ))
    or
    (exists ?occ3
    occurrence_of(?occ3,c) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ3,?occ)))
  3. In each path in the activity tree for S, there is no occurrence of b.
    Activity2.{
    OccActivity
    occurrence ?occ1 b
    ~ ?occ1
    }
    forall ?occ
    occurrence_of(?occ,S) ==>
    (not (exists ?occ1
    occurrence_of(?occ1,b) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ1,?occ)))
  4. In each path in the activity tree for S, there is an occurrence of a, and after there is no occurrence of b.
    Activity5 {
    OccActivity
    occurrence ?occ1 a
    occurrence ?occ2 b
    ?occ1 & ~ ?occ2
    }
    forall ?occ
    occurrence_of(?occ,S) ==>
    (exists ?occ1
    occurrence_of(?occ1,?a) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ1,?occ) and
    (not (exists ?occ2
    (occurrence_of(?occ2,b) and
    subactivity_occurrence(?occ2,?occ) and
    min_precedes(?occ1,?occ2 S)))

3.5 State constraints

This extension provides an explicit mechanism for associating triggered activities with states (of an overall system) that satisfy a given condition. A particular use of State Constraints is in exception handling.

3.5.1 TriggeredActivity

A TriggeredActivity is an activity which occurs whenever a state condition is satisfied.

Link to Axiomatization

Link to Reference Grammar

Process descriptions for a TriggeredActivity specifies the state condition that is associated with occurrences of the activity.

Process Description Syntax


< activity_name > {
TriggeredActivity
< state_formula >
}

Examples

3.6 Exceptions

Exceptions are central elements of most process modeling languages. For example, BPEL [BPEL 1.1], provides mechanisms based on faults, fault handlers, and compensation, for specifying exceptions and their treatments. FLOWS offers a variety of approaches to model such exceptions, which are presented in the following. The approaches presented below are not prescriptive.

3.6.1 State-based Exception Handling

The simplest method for exception handling is to define an exception handler as an activity whose occurrence is triggered by satisfaction of a state constraint.

An exception handler is defined as an activity that gets triggered when a specified (exceptional) state occurs. Consequently, the triggered activity state constraint (see section 2.2.5.1 above) can be used.

Process Description Syntax

< activity_name > {
ExceptionHandlerActivity
< exception_state_formula >
}

3.6.2 Message-based Exception Handling

Most process modeling approaches and programming languages (such as Java [Gosling96]) require exceptions either to be raised or ("thrown") explicitly by a modeled element (i.e., a process) or by the execution environment. A raised exception is then sequentially passed to exception handler, which have registered for it. Essentially, this approach represents the raising of a "message" which describes the exception and the catching (or consuming) of this message by some type of handler.

We place the term 'message' in quotes because this can be embodied in two ways in the conceptual model presented here. In the first embodiment, these "messages" would be messages between Web services, i.e., messages in the sense described above. In the second embodiment, these "messages" would be internal to a Web service, and would involve the passing of information from one family of activities in the service (intuitively, the main body of the service) to another family of activities in the service (intuitively, the exception-handling or fault-handling portion of the service).

In either case, the creation and transmission of an exception-based "message" can be modeled as a refinement of the notion of state-based exception handling. In particular, if the system is in a state in which an exception condition is satisfied, then an activity that creates or in some other way embodies a "message" transmission is triggered.

Exceptions get raised explicitly as messages to the parent activity. The parent activity can explicitly register an exception handler to listen for the specific exception message to be raised. If no exception handler is registered, then the mechanism "executing" the specification will be informed of the exception and may halt the execution of the overall process.

Process Description Syntax

If the activity raising the exception is not an AtomicProcess, then the service description satisfies the following syntax:

    < exception_raising_activity_name > {
        Unordered | Split | Sequence | Choice | IfThenElse | Iterate | RepeatUntil
        ...
        occurrence ?occ RaiseException(< exception_name > )
        ...
    }

    < exception_raising_activity_name > {
        Unordered | Split | Sequence | Choice | IfThenElse | Iterate | RepeatUntil
        ...
        occurrence < subocc_varname > < subactivity_name >
        ...
        raises_exception < exception_name >
    }

If the activity raising the exception is an AtomicProcess, then the service description satisfies the following syntax:

    < exception_raising_activity_name > {
          Atomic
          input < input_fluent_name >
          output < output_fluent_name > | < psuedo_state_formula > 
    < output_fluent_name >
          precondition < psuedo_state_formula >
          effect < psuedo_state_formula > | < psuedo_state_formula >
< psuedo_state_formula >
          raises_exception < exception_name >
    }

If the activity catching the exception is not an AtomicProcess, then the service description satisfies the following syntax:

    < exception_raising_activity_name > {
        Unordered | Split | Sequence | Choice | IfThenElse | Iterate | RepeatUntil
        ...
        occurrence < subocc_varname > < subactivity_name >
        ...
        catches_exception < exception_name >
    }

If the activity catching the exception is an AtomicProcess, then the service description satisfies the following syntax:

    < exception_raising_activity_name > {
          Atomic
          input < input_fluent_name >
          output < output_fluent_name > | < psuedo_state_formula > < output_fluent_name >
          precondition < psuedo_state_formula >
          effect < psuedo_state_formula > | < psuedo_state_formula >
< psuedo_state_formula >
          catches_exception < exception_name >
    }

3.6.3 Extended Exception Handling

Intended Semantics
The intended semantics for the extended exception handling mechanism are described in great detail in [Klein 00a, Klein 00b]. Summarized it is the following (see also Figure 2.2):

This setup allows to develop hierarchy of exception types (similar to Java), where each exception is associated with a (potentially domain independent) collection different exception handlers (see [Klein 00a] Figure 7 for an example).

The various approaches to exception handling within SWSL are illustrated in the application scenarios below

Link to Axiomatization

Process Description Syntax

The process description for the exception itself satisfies the following syntax:

    < exception_name > {
        is_handled_by   < exception_handling_activity_name >
        is_found_by    < exception_finding_activity_name >
        is_fixed_by    < exception_fixing_activity_name >
        is_detected_by   < exception_detection_activity_name >
        is_anticipated_by < exception_anticipation_activity_name >
        is_avoided_by   < exception_avoidance_activity_name >
        is_resolved_by   < exception_resolution_activity_name >
    }

If the activity raising the exception is not an AtomicProcess, then the service description satisfies the following syntax:

    < exception_raising_activity_name > {
        Unordered | Split | Sequence | Choice | IfThenElse | Iterate | RepeatUntil
        ...
        occurrence ?occ RaiseException(< exception_name > )
        ...
    }

    < exception_raising_activity_name > {
        Unordered | Split | Sequence | Choice | IfThenElse | Iterate | RepeatUntil
        ...
        occurrence < subocc_varname > < subactivity_name >
        ...
        raises_exception < exception_name >
    }

If the activity raising the exception is an AtomicProcess, then the service description satisfies the following syntax:

    < exception_raising_activity_name > {
          Atomic
          input < input_fluent_name >
          output < output_fluent_name > | < psuedo_state_formula > < output_fluent_name >
          precondition < psuedo_state_formula >
          effect < psuedo_state_formula > | < psuedo_state_formula >
< psuedo_state_formula >
          raises_exception < exception_name >
    }

3.7 Additional Extensions to FLOWS-Core

This subsection briefly describes some other possible extensions to FLOWS-Core. The intention here is to briefly indicate how FLOWS-Core can indeed serve as a foundation for the formal study of several models and approaches to Web services found in standards and in the literature. This underscores the fact that FLOWS-Core can serve as a common foundation for a unified study of two or more currently disparate Web services models.

3.7.1 Meta-Server

This section describes a modeling construct above FLOWS-Core, that could be used as the basis for a PSL extension of FLOWS-Core.

In many models and standards for Web services, including BPEL, the Roman model, the Conversation model, and the Guarded Automata model, it is typical to consider both Web services and the Web servers that run them. In essence, a Web server is an executing process (i.e., an occurrence of some PSL complex activity) that has the ability to "launch" occurrences of one or more kinds of service activities (i.e., that includes atomic processes whose occurrences have the impact of creating service activity occurrences). The extension Meta-Server is intended to capture salient aspects of such frameworks.

In this possible extension, a (Formal) Server is itself a Formal Service. There could be a fluent server_service(Server:activity, Service:activity), where server_service(R, S) has the intuitive meaning that Server R is managing Service S.

A Server R will include at least the following kind of service-specific atomic process:

A Formal Service may have other kinds of atomic processes. For example, it is typical that it would have Read_Message atomic processes. In typical application, a Server would only read messages that are intended to launch new occurrences of a Service that is managed by the Server. It is also natural to include Destroy_Message.

Axioms would enforce that a Server R can launch occurrences of Service S only if server_service(R, S) holds. Furthermore, each Service can be associated with at most one Server in server_service.

An illustration of a Server is provided in Section 2.2(c) (in the Application Scenarios document)

(In [BPEL 1.1] (and in BPEL 1.0), messages which are intended to launch new occurrences of a service activity, have the value of special-purpose parameter createInstance set to "yes"; messages intended for existing service activity occurrences have this parameter set to "no". In BPEL 1.1, it is required that the first step of the newly launched service activity occurrence is the receiving of the launching message. In the Meta-Service extension here we have the Server actually read (in essence, receive) the message. It is possible to build a theory that builds on Meta-Service to capture the semantics of Service launching as specified in BPEL 1.1.)

Although not explicitly included in the description of the potential extension Meta-Server presented here, it is possible in an application domain to include additional atomic processes with a server, which intuitively have the impact of terminating services associated with the server, or monitoring their execution. A server may also have atomic processes that embody administrative actions, such as creating/destroying channels. We note that in practice, it will be typical to associate a family of domain-specific fluents with a server, with a constraint that only services associated by server_service with that server are able to access or update those fluents.

3.7.2 Local Store

This possible extension provides constructs for explicitly modeling that a Web service has a variable-based local store with imperative commands for assigning and accessing values associated with the variables. The use of a local store is found in [BPEL 1.1], and in theoretical models such as Guarded Automata. These constructs are not included in the FLOWS-Core, to permit the exploration of other forms of information passing (e.g., in the style of functional programming or based on a style inspired by data flow).

3.7.3 Ordered Channels, Read & Destroy, FIFO queues

This section describes three possible extensions to FLOWS-Core. These may be particularly useful because they capture an approach for managing messages common to many Web service implementations.

The Ordered channels possible extension would include axioms that would enforce, intuitively speaking, that all or some of the channels include an ordering for the message objects that are held in the channel at a given time. This ordering might be total or partial.

The Read & destroy possible extension would include axioms which have the intuitive meaning that whenever a service occurrence reads a message, then in the very next step of execution that occurrence destroys that message. This will imply that each message is read at most once (because it is destroyed immediately thereafter). This restriction corresponds to an assumption made by many Web services models, including, e.g., [BPEL 1.1] and Guarded Automata.

The FIFO message queue possible extension is intended to captures the standard first-in-first-out behavior for channels. This extension would build on top of the Ordered channels and Read & destroy extensions. This would include axioms so that the (relevant) channels have a total ordering on contained message objects, that whenever a message is placed on the channel it has the least position in the ordering; that if a message is read (and destroyed) from the channel then it must have the greatest position in the channel; and that the relative ordering of messages on a channel and that the relative ordering of messages on a channel never changes during their existence.

3.7.2 Potential Extensions for Relation-valued and XML-valued Parameters

FLOWS-Core is very general with regards to the types of values that can be used in parameters, both as input or output of domain-specific atomic processes, and as the payload of messages. In some cases, it may be useful to create theories or extensions on top of PSL-Core, that can be used for "encoding" and "decoding" certain kinds of commonly arising payloads. We briefly consider here one way in which a uniform approach can be developed for "encoding" and "decoding" paramater values that are essentially relations, i.e., finite sets of records with uniform type. (Other encodings are possible.)

The basic approach to representing this is illustrated in Section 2.2(a) (in the Application Scenarios document) by fluents such as Transport_content_lists. In that example, an occurrence of the Warehouse_order_fulfillment service can perform an occurrence o of the activity send_shipment_from_warehouse using a parameter transport_content_list_idR as the value of this parameter for o. Under the intended operation, the actual contents of the shipment can be obtained from fluent Transport_content_lists. by selecting on "transport_content_list_id = R" and then projecting out the transport_content_list_id field. This will give a set of records with signature item_id:int, quantity:int. A similar encoding schema can be used for relation-valued parameters with different signatures, and an analogous encoding can be formulated for XML-Valued Parameters.

3.7.5 Relationships Relevant to BPEL

We briefly describe here several modeling constructs that lie above FLOWS-Core, in order to build up to a representation of the process model aspects of services described using [BPEL 1.1]. We also suggest a refinement of BPEL, called here BPEL++, which incorporates the use of meta-service, and specific design choices on how messages are passed between BPEL services.

All of these possible extensions, along with possible extensions for Local store, Control constructs and Exceptions, can be used in defining a possible extension BPEL(process), which can serve as a formal, declarative specification of essential aspects of some version of BPEL (e.g., [BPEL 1.1]).

The BPEL(process) possible extension in turn might be combined with Meta-service and FIFO Message Queue to create a possible extension BPEL++(process), which can incorporate often made assumptions concerning message passing semantics that are not explicitly mentioned in the BPEL 1.1 specification.

3.7.6 Potential Extensions for the Roman and Guarded Automata Models

In many approaches to Web services, including [BPEL 1.1], a flowchart-based process model is used to specify the internal process flow of Web services. This approach is also found in OWL-S, and is essentially embodied in the Control Constructs extension of FLOWS-Core. In this section we briefly consider an alternative basis for the internal process model of Web services, based on the use of automata. Of course, there are other process modeling paradigms that may also be considered, including e.g., Petri nets and models, such as some process algebras, with unbounded sub-process spawning (see also the example in Section 2.3 of the Application Scenarios document).

We mention two important automata-based approaches from the literature.

Section 2.2(b) (in the Application Scenarios document) gives a brief illustration of how a guarded automaton can be used to specify the process model of a service.


4 Grounding a Service Description

The SWSO concepts for service description (as described in Section 3 of this document), and the instantiations of these concepts that describe a particular service, are abstract specifications, in the sense that they do not specify the details of particular message formats, transport protocols, and network addresses by which a Web service is accessed. The role of the grounding is to provide these more concrete details.

The Web Services Description Language (WSDL), developed independently of SWSL and SWSO, provides a well developed means of specifying these kinds of details, and is already in widespread use within the commercial Web services community. Therefore, we can ground a SWSO service description by defining mappings from certain SWSO concepts to WSDL constructs that describe the concrete realizations of these concepts. (For example, SWSO's concept of message can be mapped onto WSDL's elements that describe messages.) These mappings are based upon the observation that SWSL's concept of grounding is generally consistent with WSDL's concept of binding. As a result, it is a straightforward task to ground a SWSL service description to a WSDL service description, and thus take advantage of WSDL features that allow for the lower-level specification of details related to interoperability between services and service users.

In this release of SWSF, we give a sketch of the essential elements of grounding to WSDL, rather than a complete specification. Our approach here is similar to the WSDL grounding specified in [OWL-S 1.1]. We rely upon the soon-to-be-finalized WSDL 2.0 specification [WSDL 2.0]), which is in last call as of this writing.

Note that SWSO groundings are deliberately decoupled from SWSO abstract service descriptions, so as to enable reusability. An abstract service specification (say, for a bookselling service) can be coupled with one grounding in one context (say, when deployed by one online bookseller) and coupled with a different grounding (when deployed by a second online bookseller). The two booksellers would have completely distinct groundings, which would of course specify different network addresses for contacting their services, but could also specify quite different message formats.

4.1 Relationships between SWSO and WSDL

The approach described here allows a service developer, who is going to provide service descriptions for use by potential clients, to take advantage of the complementary strengths of these two specification languages. On the one hand (the abstract side of a service specification), the developer benefits by making use of SWSO's process model, and the expressiveness of SWSO ontologies, relative to what XML Schema Definition (XSD) provides. On the other hand (the concrete side), the developer benefits from the opportunity to reuse the extensive work done in WSDL (and related languages such as SOAP), and software support for message exchanges based on WSDL declarations, as defined to date for various protocols and transport mechanisms.

Whereas a default WSDL specification refers only to XSD primitive data types, and composite data types defined using XSD, a SWSO/WSDL specification can refer to SWSO classes and other types defined in SWSO (in addition to the XSD primitive and defined types). These types can, if desired, be used directly by WSDL-enabled services, as supported by WSDL type extension mechanisms. In this case the SWSO types can either be defined within the WSDL spec, or defined in a separate document and referred to from within the WSDL spec. However, it is not necessary to construct WSDL-enabled services that use SWSO types directly in this manner. When they are not used directly, translation mechanisms such as those outlined below may be used to spell out the relationships between the SWSO types and the corresponding XML Schema types used in the default style of WSDL definition.

We emphasize that an SWSO/WSDL grounding involves a complementary use of the two languages, in a way that is in accord with the intentions of the authors of WSDL. Both languages are required for the full specification of a grounding. This is because the two languages do not cover the same conceptual space. The two languages do overlap, to a degree, in that they both provide for the specification of "types" associated with message contents. WSDL, by default, specifies the types of message contents using XML Schema, and is primarily concerned with defining valid, checkable syntax for message contents. SWSO, on the other hand, does not constrain syntax at all, but rather allows for the definition of abstract types that are associated with logical assertions (IO fluents) in a knowledge base. WSDL/XSD is unable to express the semantics associated with SWSO concepts. Similarly, SWSO has no means to define legal syntax or to declare the binding information that WSDL captures. Thus, it is natural that a SWSO/WSDL grounding uses SWSO types as the abstract types of messages declared in WSDL, and then relies on WSDL binding constructs to specify the syntax and formatting of the messages.

4.2 Mapping between SWSO and WSDL

Web services are inherently message-oriented, and messages are also the central concern in the grounding of a SWSO service. The essence of this grounding approach is to establish a mapping between selected message-oriented constructs in SWSO and their counterparts in WSDL service descriptions.

To elucidate the requirements for the grounding, and clarify the scope of the current effort, we consider a hypothetical service enactment environment, or execution engine, based on SWSO; that is, a software system that enacts processes described using SWSO's process model. We assume that this system incorporates a knowledge base that contains the relevant SWSO service descriptions, and manages the fluents associated with service execution, as described earlier in this document. We call a system of this type a Semantic Web Services Execution Environment (SWSEE).

The primary motivation for this grounding approach is to make it possible for a SWSEE to handle messages that conform to WSDL service specifications. We want to allow for scenarios in which a SWSEE plays the role of a service provider (that is, manages the communications associated with a service from the provider's point of view), a service user, or both. When acting as a service provider, a SWSEE will need to accept a WSDL input message, extract the needed pieces of information from its content, and assert them into the knowledge base in accordance with the SWSO declarations of input fluents. This step of handling an input message, as a service provider, would happen in correspondence with the execution of a Read_Message atomic process. In addition, a service-providing SWSEE will need to generate outputs in correspondence with Produce_Message atomics, by pulling information from its knowledge base and formatting it into appropriate WSDL-conformant output messages.

Conversely, when acting as a service user (invoker), a SWSEE will need to execute a Produce_Message atomic for the purpose of invoking a remote Web service. In correspondence with this atomic activity, the SWSEE will need to produce a WSDL-conformant message to send to the remote service. (This message will be an input from the WSDL perspective, but an output from the SWSEE perspective in this situation.) Following that, it may need to receive a return message from the WSDL service, and will this will be done by a Read_Message atomic.

In designing these basic grounding mechanisms, we are noncommittal about the architectural role of a SWSEE. So as to be general and avoid relying on any particular architectural commitments, our approach here is minimalist. For example, we do not explain the mechanisms by which a SWSEE might arrange to make a run-time selection and binding to a particular WSDL service. Rather, we are concerned only with essential representational requirements that will be needed by the builders of enactment environments: we seek to provide a common denominator of representation by which the relationships between elements of WSDL and SWSO service descriptions can be declared.

Thus, the role of the SWSO/WSDL grounding (or at least the most central role) may be conceived as follows: it provides a SWSEE with the information it needs at runtime to handle (both send and receive) messages associated with WSDL service descriptions. To do this, it must provide the following things:

  1. mappings between SWSO and WSDL elements that specify message patterns
  2. mappings between SWSO's (abstract) message types and the concrete message types declared in WSDL
  3. specification of a method for translating from an abstract message type to the corresponding concrete message type (i.e., serializing the abstract message type into the concrete message type)
  4. specification of a method for translating from a concrete message type to the corresponding abstract message type (i.e., deserializing the concrete message type into the abstract message type)

In addition to the above, it is also desirable to provide the following:

We briefly describe each of these aspects of the grounding in turn. The needed mappings will be provided by introducing several new SWSO relations here. These relations differ from the process model relations of Section 3 in that they are not axiomatized. This is because they provide mappings to external entities (declared in WSDL) that are outside the scope of SWSO axiomatization.

4.2.1 Message Patterns

In WSDL 2.0 an operation declares a set of messages that are used in accordance with a message pattern, as in this simple example from the [WSDL 2.0 Primer]:

 <operation name="opCheckAvailability"
   pattern="http://www.w3.org/2004/03/wsdl/in-out"
   style="http://www.w3.org/2004/08/wsdl/style/uri"
   safe = "true">
  <input messageLabel="In"
    element="ghns:checkAvailability" />
   <output messageLabel="Out"
       element="ghns:checkAvailabilityResponse" />
    <outfault ref="tns:invalidDataFault" messageLabel="Out"/>
  </operation>

Here the message pattern is in-out (declared elsewhere). Each input/output message declaration gives an XML Schema document type (e.g., ghns:checkAvailability) and a label (e.g., In) that shows where the message is used in the pattern.

The correspondence to SWSO is this:

To indicate this mapping, we introduce a single SWSO relation:

  activity_grounding(activity, wsdl_operation)

where activity refers to a complex activity declared in a SWSO service description, and wsdl_operation is a URL for a WSDL operation declaration.

4.2.2 Message Type Realization

As discussed in Section 3.1.4, SWSO's process model is silent as to the concrete form (syntax, serialization) associated with a message type. The nature of a message type is characterized abstractly, by associating it with one or more IO fluents, using the described_by relation. One central job of the grounding, then, is to specify a concrete syntax for each SWSO message type. In WSDL these concrete syntaxes are normally given by "message types" declared using XML Schema declarations. To distinguish these message types from those of SWSO, we refer to those of WSDL as "concrete message types".

We note that WSDL allows for the use of type specifications using other mechanisms than XML Schema. In this document, however, for simplicity, we assume the use of XML Schema in WSDL service descriptions.

To specify the concrete syntax associated with a SWSO message type, we introduce the relation

  message_type_grounding(msg_type, wsdl_operation, wsdl_message_label)

where msg_type is an identifier for a message type defined using SWSO, wsdl_operation is a URI for an operation defined in a WSDL specification, and wsdl_message_label is a label used within that operation definition. The meaning of an instance of this relation is simply that a message of the given SWSO message type corresponds to a WSDL message declared with the given label, within the given WSDL operation.

4.2.3 Mapping SWSO Messages to WSDL Messages

In addition to showing the correspondence of SWSO message types with WSDL concrete message types, a grounding should indicate a precise method for constructing WSDL message content from SWSO message content. For this purpose we provide the message_serialization_method relation:

  message_serialization_method(msg_type, wsdl_operation, wsdl_message_label, method)

The meaning of an instance of this relation is that a message of the given SWSO message type will be serialized appropriately for the WSDL message having the given label within the given operation. The serialization will be performed by the specified method.

In general this allows for an arbitrary method, which could be external (e.g., it could be a Java method). Therefore, we do not specify what kind of thing method refers to; this should be defined by each particular SWSEE implementation.

The specified method retrieves the information associated with the given message type by querying the knowledge base (in particular, the IO fluents for that message type), and generates the appropriate WSDL message containing that information.

msg_type, wsdl_operation, and wsdl_message_label are as described for message_type_grounding.

In Section 4.2.5, we sketch a means by which this translation method can be specified in a more declarative style.

4.2.4 Mapping WSDL Messages to SWSO Messages

The grounding must also specify how the various parts of an individual WSDL message get mapped into the fluents associated with that message type. This is done using the message_deserialization_method relation:

  message_deserialization_method(wsdl_operation, wsdl_msg_label, msg_type, method)

The meaning of an instance of this relation is that a WSDL message, having the given label within the given operation, will be deserialized into the given SWSO message type, by the specified method.

As with message_serialization_method, method is regarded as external and implementation-defined.

The specified method takes an arbitrary message of the kind specified by the given message label (within the given WSDL operation), extracts the information content from that message, and asserts the appropriate IO fluents into the knowledge base.

msg_type, wsdl_operation, and wsdl_message_label are as described above for message_type_grounding.

In Section 4.2.6, we sketch a means by which this translation method can be specified in a more declarative style.

4.2.5 Declarative Specification of SWSO-to-WSDL Message Mapping

Here, we sketch a general declarative means for specifying the serialization of a message of a given SWSO message type into a concrete message type specified in WSDL, which could be used as an alternative to declaring a message serialization method. The idea here is to use a knowledge base query to extract information from the IO fluents within the SWSEE's knowledge base, and use a message generation script to generate a message containing that information. The information is passed from the query to the message generation script by means of variable bindings. This approach is supported by the message_serialization relation:

  message_serialization(msg_type, wsdl_operation, wsdl_msg_label, kb_query, msg_generation_script)

msg_type refers to a SWSO message type. The second and third arguments are references to a WSDL message element, as used in message_serialization_method and message_deserialization_method, above.

kb_query is a query expression, containing variables, that extracts the needed information from IO fluents in the knowledge base and binds the variables to that information. We do not specify a particular query language in this document. A SWSL-based query language, yet to be developed, is a possibility.

msg_generation_script is a script in a language such as XSLT [XSLT] that is suitable for generating an XML document. Variables mentioned in the script would correspond to variables mentioned in the KB query, and would be bound to the query's return values before the script is executed.

The meaning of an instance of this relation is that a message of the given SWSO message type will be serialized appropriately into the WSDL message having the given label within the given operation. The serialization will result by running the message generation script with variables bound as described above.

4.2.6 Declarative Specification of WSDL-to-SWSO Message Mapping

Here, we sketch a general declarative means for specifying the deserialization of a message of a given concrete message type (as specified in WSDL). This approach may be regarded as the inverse functionality of that specified using message_serialization. The idea here is to use a document query language to extract information from the concrete message content, and use an update script to insert that information into a SWSEE's knowledge base. The information is passed from the document query to the update script by means of variable bindings. This approach is supported by the message_deserialization relation:

  message_deserialization(wsdl_operation, wsdl_msg_label, msg_type, msg_query, kb_update_script)

The first two arguments, as above, refer to a WSDL message declaration (within an operation declaration), and the third refers to a SWSO message type.

msg_query is a document query expression, containing variables, that extracts the needed information from in the knowledge base and binds the variables to that information. We do not specify a particular document query language in this document, but XQuery [XQuery 1.0] would be a natural candidate.

kb_update_script is a script in a knowledge base update language. Variables bound in the update script would correspond to variables mentioned in the message query, and would be bound to the query's return values before the script is executed.


5 Rules Ontology for Web Services (ROWS)

The preceding material of this section describes FLOWS, the First-Order Logic Ontology for Web Services, which is expressed in SWSL-FOL. To enable implementations in reasoning and execution environments based on logic-programming, we provide, in Appendix C, the Rules Ontology for Web Services (ROWS). ROWS is a (partial) translation of FLOWS into SWSL-Rules. The intent of each ROWS axiom is identical to what is explained above for the corresponding axioms of FLOWS. However, because SWSL-Rules is inherently less expressive than SWSL-FOL, some axioms in ROWS are weakened with respect to the corresponding axiom in SWSL-FOL. The strategies by which the axioms have been translated into SWSL-Rules are summarized in Section 5 below.

ROWS also defines several top-level classes, which correspond to similar classes in FLOWS. These classes are Service, Process, AtomicProcess, Message, and Channel.

Services and service descriptors. The Service class is defined by its descriptors and the process associated with the service. Service descriptors are defined in Section 2 and processes in Section 3.1.

 prefix xsd = "http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema".
 Service[
  name        *=> xsd#string,
  author       *=> xsd#string,
  contactInformation *=> xsd#string,
  contributor    *=> xsd#string,
  description    *=> xsd#string,
  url        *=> xsd#string,
  identifier     *=> xsd#string,
  version      *=> xsd#string,
  releaseDate    *=> xsd#date,
  language      *=> xsd#string,
  subject      *=> xsd#string,
  trust       *=> xsd#string,
  reliability    *=> xsd#string,
  cost        *=> xsd#string
].

Some of the above string-datatypes may be replaced with more appropriate data types later. For instance, the type of the cost descriptor may be replaced with a type that supports currencies and even compelex arrangements such as payment plans.

Processes and IOPEs. In addition to the descriptors, the Service class has the process attribute, which specifies the process associated with the service. It is defined as follows:

 Service[
  process *=> Process
 ].

where the Process class has the following attributes:

 Process[
  precondition *=> Formula,
  effect    *=> Formula,
  input    *=> ProcessInput,
  output    *=> ProcessOutput
].

Here Formula is a built-in class that consists of all reifications of formulas in SWSL-Rules and ProcessInput and ProcessOutput are classes that determine the structure of inputs and outputs of processes. They will be defined in a future release.

In addition, the AtomicProcess class of Section 3.1 is defined as a subclass of Process:

 AtomicProcess :: Process.

Messages and channels. The Message and the Channel classes are declared as follows:

 Message[
  type   *=> MessageType,
  body   *=> MessageBody,
  producer *=> AtomicProcess
 ].
 Channel[
  contents *=> Message,
  source  *=> Service,
  target  *=> Service
 ].

where the classes MessageType and MessageBody, which are used to specify the ranges of the attributes type and body in class Message, will be defined in a future release.







6 Background Materials

6.1 Ontology of the Process Specification Language

The semantics of concepts in FLOWS is formally axiomatized using ontology of ISO 18629 ( Process Specification Language ) [Gruninger03a], [Gruninger03b]. The complete set of axioms for the PSL Ontology can be found at PSL Ontology .

FLOWS adopts the basic ontological commitments of ISO 18629-11 ( PSL-Core ):

  1. There are four kinds of entities required for reasoning about processes -- activities, activity occurrences, timepoints, and objects.
  2. Activities may have multiple occurrences, or there may exist activities that do not occur at all.
  3. Timepoints are linearly ordered, forwards into the future, and backwards into the past.
  4. Activity occurrences and objects are associated with unique timepoints that mark the begin and end of the occurrence or object.

Some key predicates in PSL-Core include activity(?a) which holds when the value of ?a is an activity in a given interpretation, and occurrence_of(?occ, ?a) which holds when the value associated with ?occ is an occurrence (intuitively, an execution) of the activity associated with ?a. PSL-Core also provides terms and predicates for describing chronological time and relating the activity occurrences to time (e.g., term beginof(?occ) corresponds to the time point at which ?occ begins, and predicate before(?t1,?t2) holds if the value of ?t1 is chronologically before the value of ?t2).

The axiomatization of FLOWS also requires the extensions in ISO 18629-12 ( PSL Outer-Core ):

  1. Subactivity Theory

    The PSL Ontology uses the subactivity relation to capture the basic intuitions for the composition of activities. This relation is a discrete partial ordering, in which primitive activities are the minimal elements.
    The primary predicate that is axiomatized in this extension is subactivity(?a1,?a2), which holds when activity ?a1 is component activity of activity ?a2.

  2. Occurrence Trees Theory

    The occurrence trees that are axiomatized in this core theory are partially ordered sets of activity occurrences, such that for a given set of activities, all discrete sequences of their occurrences are branches of the tree. An occurrence tree contains all occurrences of all activities; it is not simply the set of occurrences of a particular (possibly complex) activity.

  3. Discrete State Theory

    This core theory introduces the notion of state (fluents). Fluents are changed only by the occurrence of activities, and fluents do not change during the occurrence of primitive activities. In addition, activities have preconditions (fluents that must hold before an occurrence) and effects (fluents that always hold after an occurrence).

  4. Atomic Activities Theory

    This core theory axiomatizes intuitions about the concurrent aggregation of primitive activities. This concurrent aggregation is represented by the occurrence of concurrent activities, rather than concurrent activity occurrences.
    In particular, occurrences of atomic activities are non-decomposable (e.g., in the sense of database concurrency) -- the occurrence is not interleaved with other activity occurrences, and all aspects of the occurrence are completed.

  5. Complex Activity Theory

    This core theory characterizes the relationship between the occurrence of a complex activity and occurrences of its subactivities. Occurrences of complex activities correspond to sets of occurrences of subactivities; in particular, these sets are subtrees of the occurrence tree. An activity tree consists of all possible sequences of atomic subactivity occurrences beginning from a root subactivity occurrence. In a sense, activity trees are a microcosm of the occurrence tree, in which we consider all of the ways in which the world unfolds in the context of an occurrence of the complex activity.

    Different subactivities may occur on different branches of the activity tree, so that different occurrences of an activity may have different subactivity occurrences or different orderings on the same subactivity occurrences. In this sense, branches of the activity tree characterize the nondeterminism that arises from different ordering constraints or iteration.

    An activity will in general have multiple activity trees within an occurrence tree, and not all activity trees for an activity need be isomorphic. Different activity trees for the same activity can have different subactivity occurrences. Following this intuition, this core theory does not constrain which subactivities occur.

  6. Complex Activity Occurrence Theory

    Within the Complex Activity Theory, complex activity occurrences correspond to activity trees, and consequently occurrences of complex activities are not elements of the legal occurrence tree. The axioms of the Activity Occurrences core theory ensure that complex activity occurrences correspond to branches of activity trees. Each complex activity occurrence has a unique atomic root occurrence and each finite complex activity occurrence has a unique atomic leaf occurrence. A subactivity occurrence corresponds to a sub-branch of the branch corresponding to the complex activity occurrence.
    The primary relation is subactivity_occurrence(?occ1,?occ2), which holds in an interpretation when the occurrence ?occ1 (which can be viewed as a set of one or more atomic occurrences in one branch of the execution tree) is a subset of the occurrence ?occ2.

6.2 Knowledge Preconditions and Knowledge Effects

In order to characterize the inputs and outputs of Web services as knowledge preconditions and knowledge effects, FLOWS augments PSL with a treatment of knowledge. To do so, it appeals to the work of Scherl and Levesque who provided a means of encoding the knowledge of an agent in the situation calculus by adapting Moore's possible-world semantics for knowledge and action [Scherl03]. Scherl and Levesque achieve this by adding a K fluent to the situation calculus. Intuitively, K(s',s) holds iff when the agent is in situation s, she considers it possible to be in s'. Thus, a first-order formula f is known in a situation s if f holds in every situation that is K-accessible from s. For notational convenience, the following abbreviations are adopted.
Knows(f,s) is defined to be forall s' K(s',s) ==> f[s'], and
Knowswhether(f,s) is equivalent to Knows(f,s) or Knows(not f,s).
To define properties of the knowledge of agents they define restrictions such as reflexivity over the K fluent. The FLOWS axiomatization of these epistemic concepts can be found here.

Note: We assume f is a situation-suppressed formula (i.e. a situation formula whose situation terms are suppressed). f[s] denotes the formula that restores situation arguments in f by s.


7 Glossary

Activity
Activity. In the formal PSL ontology, the notion of activity is a basic construct, which corresponds intuitively to a kind of (manufacturing or processing) activity. In PSL, an activity may have associated occurrences, which correspond intuitively to individual instances or executions of the activity. (We note that in PSL an activity is not a class or type with occurrences as members; rather, an activity is an object, and occurrences are related to this object by the binary predicate occurrence_of.) The occurrences of an activity may impact fluents (which provide an abstract representation of the "real world"). In FLOWS, with each service there is an associated activity (called the "service activity" of that service). The service activity may specify aspects of the internal process flow of the service, and also aspects of the messaging interface of that service to other services.
Channel
Channel. In FLOWS, a channel is a formal conceptual object, which corresponds intuitively to a repository and conduit for messages. The FLOWS notion of channel is quite primitive, and under various restrictions can be used to model the form of channel or message-passing as found in web services standards, including WSDL, BPEL, WS-Choreography, WSMO, and also as found in several research investigations, including process algrebras.
FLOWS
First-order Logic Ontology for Web Services. FLOWS, also known as SWSO-FOL, is the first-order logic version of the Semantic Web Services Ontology. FLOWS is an extension of the PSL-OuterCore ontology, to incorporate the fundamental aspects of (web and other electronic) services, including service descriptors, the service activity, and the service grounding.
Fluent
Fluent. In FLOWS, following PSL and the situation calculii, a fluent is a first-order logic term or predicate whose value may vary over time. In a first-order model of a FLOWS theory, this being a model of PSL-OuterCore, time is represented as a discrete linear sequence of timees, and fluents has a value for each time in this sequence.
Grounding
Grounding. The SWSO concepts for describing service activities, and the instantiations of these concepts that describe a particular service activity, are abstract specifications, in the sense that they do not specify the details of particular message formats, transport protocols, and network addresses by which a Web service is accessed. The role of the grounding is to provide these more concrete details. A substantial portion of the grounding can be acheived by mapping SWSO concepts into corresponding WSDL constructs. (Additional grounding, e.g., of some process-related aspects of SWSO, might be acheived using other standards, such as BPEL.)
Message
Message. In FLOWS, a message is a formal conceptual object, which corresponds intuitively to a single message that is created by a service occurrence, and read by zero or more service occurrences. The FLOWS notion of message is quite primitive, and under various restrictions can be used to model the form of messages as found in web services standards, including WSDL (1.0 and 2.0), BPEL, WS-Choreography, WSMO, and also as found in several research investigations. A message has a payload, which corresponds intuitively to the body or contents of the message. In FLOWS emphasis is placed on the knowledge that is gained by a service occurrence when reading a message with a given payload (and the knowledge needed to create that message.
Occurrence
Occurence (of a service). In FLOWS, a service S has an associated FLOWS activity A (which generalizes the notion of PSL activity). An occurrence of S is formally a PSL occurrence of the activity A. Intuitively, this occurrence corresponds to an instance or execution (from start to finish) of the activity A, i.e., of the process associated with service S. As in PSL, an occurrence has a starting time time and an ending time.
PSL
Process Specification Language. The Process Specification Language (PSL) is a formally axiomatized ontology [Gruninger03a, Gruninger03b] that has been standardized as ISO 18629. PSL provides a layered, extensible ontology for specifying properties of processes. The most basic PSL constructs are embodied in PSL-Core; and PSL-OuterCore incorporates several extensions of PSL-Core that includes several useful constructs. (An overview of concepts in PSL that are relevant to FLOWS is given in Section 6 of the Semantic Web Services Ontology document.)
QName
Qualified name. A pair (URI, local-name). The URI represents a namespace and local-name represents a name used in an XML document, such as a tag name or an attribute name. In XML, QNames are syntactically represented as prefix:local-name, where prefix is a macro that expands into a concrete URI. See Namespaces in XML for more details.
ROWS
Rules Ontology for Web Services. ROWS, also known as SWSO-Rules, is the rules-based version of the Semantic Web Services Ontology. ROWS is created by a relatively straight-forward, almost faithful, transformation of FLOWS, the First-order Logic Ontology for Web Services. As with FLOWS, ROWS incorporates fundamental aspects of (web and other electronic) services, including service descriptors, the service activity, and the service grounding. ROWS enables a rules-based specification of a family of services, including both the underlying ontology and the domain-specific aspects.
Service
(Formal) Service. In FLOWS, a service is a conceptual object, that corresponds intuitively to a web service (or other electronically accessible service). Through binary predicates a service is associated with various service descriptors (a.k.a. non-functional properties) such as Service Name, Service Author, Service URL, etc.; an activity (in the sense of PSL) which specifies intuitively the process model associated with the service; and a grounding.
Service contract
Describes an agreement between the service requester and service provider, detailing requirements on a service occurrence or family of service occurrences.
Service descriptor
Service Descriptor. This is one of several non-functional properties associated with services. The Service Descriptors include Service Name, Service Author, Service Contract Information, Service Contributor, Service Description, Service URL, Service Identifier, Service Version, Service Release Date, Service Language, Service Trust, Service Subject, Service Reliability, and Service Cost.
Service offer description
Describes an abstract service (i.e. not a concrete instance of the service) provided by a service provider agent.
Service requirement description
Describes an abstract service required by a service requester agent, in the context of service discovery, service brokering, or negotiation.
sQName
Serialized QName. A serialized QName is a shorthand representation of a URI. It is a macro that expands into a full-blown URI. sQNames are not QNames: the former are URIs, while the latter are pairs (URI, local-name). Serialized QNames were originally introduced in RDF as a notation for shortening URI representation. Unfortunately, RDF introduced confusion by adopting the term QName for something that is different from QNames used in XML. To add to the confusion, RDF uses the syntax for sQNames that is identical to XML's syntax for QNames. SWSL distinguishes between QNames and sQNames, and uses the syntax prefix#local-name for the latter. Such an sQName expands into a full URI by concatenating the value of prefix with local-name.
URI
Universal Resource Identifier. A symbol used to locate resources on the Web. URIs are defined by IETF. See Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI): Generic Syntax for more details. Within the IETF standards the notion of URI is an extension and refinement of the notions of Uniform Resource Locator (URL) and Relative Uniform Resource Locators.

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Appendices

A PSL in SWSL-FOL and SWSL-Rules

B Axiomatization of the FLOWS Process Model

C Axiomatization of the Process Model in SWSL-Rules

D Reference Grammars