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Re: PROV-ISSUE-15 (define-views-or-account): Definition for Concept 'Views or accounts' [Provenance Terminology]

From: Simon Miles <simon.miles@kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 31 May 2011 17:24:45 +0100
Message-ID: <BANLkTinq7_DTtN0O-+Ct0CcV02WXXeyEaA@mail.gmail.com>
To: Provenance Working Group WG <public-prov-wg@w3.org>
Hi Luc,

This discussion may be more about access and query than accounts, but
I'll keep it on this thread for now.

I'd be inclined to say that as we're proposing something for the web
and for provenance, identifiers should be universal in space and time,
respectively, unless there's a strong reason not to be. I don't know
of such a reason for accounts.

Surely an identifier local to a server becomes universal (in space)
when combined with the server's identifier (just as web resources
combined from paths from the document root and the server DNS). We do
not need to pretend to a client that the universal identifier does not

And if we consider provenance data may be encoded in RDF, I'm unclear
how you could have an identifier local to a provenance container
(noting that the latter is not yet defined). URIs are universally
scoped in space. Blank nodes have non-universal scope, but their
actual scope depends on the set in which they are contained and is not
controllable, e.g. in one triple store, a blank node is uniquely
identified within the contents of that store, but if someone copies
the triples into a larger store, the blank node is now unique within a
larger set of assertions. As far as I can see, named graphs does not
affect this issue either - no identifiers are local to named graphs.


On 31 May 2011 16:45, Luc Moreau <L.Moreau@ecs.soton.ac.uk> wrote:
> Hi Simon and Paul,
> What's the scope of these identifiers?
> Let's say I retrieve provenance of thing1, which includes an account
> identified by account-x.y.z.
> Then, I retrieve provenance of thing2, which includes an account
> identified by account-x.y.z
> What is the scope of identifier account-x.y.z :
> - universal in space and time?
> - the server which returned the provenance?
> - the provenance container in which the account was declared?
> - something else
> Luc
> On 05/31/2011 04:23 PM, Paul Groth wrote:
>> Hi Simon,
>> I agree with you. I think the key thing is to realize that provenance
>> is asserted by one or more entities (sources?) and thus is an account
>> of the state of the world.
>> I don't think we should be forced to identify these identies. However,
>> each account should have an identifier.
>> Paul
>> Simon Miles wrote:
>>> Hi Paul,
>>> Thanks for the comments. Answers are interleaved.
>>>> I was wondering why an account must be from one source.
>>> Just because it seemed most intuitive, but maybe an account could have
>>> multiple sources, as long as we are clear what that would mean.
>>> If we meant multiple actors may agree with an account and wouldn't
>>> describe what occurred any differently from the same perspective, then
>>> that's true but there would still be one actor which originally
>>> provided the account.
>>> If we meant that multiple actors may be "co-authors" of an account,
>>> that would be more reasonable. I guess I was considering such a group
>>> as a single source, but I agree this may not be the clearest way to
>>> define things. Of course, an account can have a its own provenance
>>> where it can be specified in detail who contributed what and how.
>>>> I think a source maybe an annotation on an account.
>>> That's an issue separate from concept definition, surely. "Annotation"
>>> applies to some data (a serialised account), and "annotating with a
>>> source" requires having an identifier for the source, which my
>>> definition of account does not require.
>>>> I think a more general definition would be.
>>>> - An account is a record of something that has occurred from a
>>>> particular perspective.
>>> I'm fine with that definition. It still feels like the definition
>>> implies rather than makes explicit something significant, i.e. that
>>> the account comes from one or a group of sources, but I don't have a
>>> strong argument why it needs to be explicit.
>>>> I agree with the notion that every description of some occurrence must
>>>> be part of an account but I don't think that needs to be identified.
>>> Again, I think this goes beyond the concept definition to design
>>> decisions, but maybe we can't separate the two. It depends what you
>>> mean by "identified" as to whether I agree with you :-).
>>> If you mean that there doesn't need to be any metadata about the
>>> account(s) each occurrence is referred to in, such as the source of
>>> the account, then I agree it may be too much to require.
>>> But if you mean that we may not be able to distinguish whether two
>>> assertions about what has occurred are from the same source and
>>> perspective or not (i.e. same accounts or not), then I'm not convinced
>>> - it seems to go against the purpose of providing provenance to aid
>>> trust and interpretation to lose such distinctions.
>>> Further, if you provide no identifier for an account, then don't you
>>> lose (or make much harder) the possibility of providing metadata about
>>> it in the future? So, I would argue that all occurrences, assertions,
>>> or whatever parts comprise provenance information, should be part of
>>> at least one account, and that those accounts should be given
>>> identifiers, even if no other information about the account is
>>> provided.
>>> Thanks,
>>> Simon
>>>> thoughts?
>>>> Paul
>>>> Simon Miles wrote:
>>>>> Hello,
>>>>> My proposed starting definition:
>>>>>    - An account is a record of something that has occurred provided by
>>>>> one source and taking one perspective in describing what occurred.
>>>>> Notes:
>>>>>    - I would expect the provenance of a resource (or whatever
>>>>> provenance
>>>>> is of) to comprise a set of accounts or parts of accounts, as all the
>>>>> information within that provenance has to come from somewhere and take
>>>>> some perspective.
>>>>>    - The definition does not require that the source be identified -
>>>>> whether we require it to be seems a design decision not part of
>>>>> concept definition.
>>>>>    - The same occurrence (e.g. a "resource" or "process execution")
>>>>> could be referred to in multiple accounts. I would expect it to be
>>>>> decision of the account sources whether they are referring to the same
>>>>> thing in their assertions.
>>>>>    - "Perspective" could be rephrased as something more concrete. An
>>>>> example of perspective (from OPM) is the granularity of description:
>>>>> whether what has occurred is described coarsely or in detail. However,
>>>>> there may be other useful distinctions in perspective.
>>>>>    - Every occurrence included in some provenance data would be
>>>>> part of
>>>>> at least one account (if it had not been documented, it could not be
>>>>> included). This may be a distinction from OPM, where I believe
>>>>> entities can be included in provenance without being in an account.
>>>>> Thanks,
>>>>> Simon
>>>>> On 20 May 2011 08:38, Provenance Working Group Issue Tracker
>>>>> <sysbot+tracker@w3.org>    wrote:
>>>>>> PROV-ISSUE-15 (define-views-or-account): Definition for Concept
>>>>>> 'Views or accounts'   [Provenance Terminology]
>>>>>> http://www.w3.org/2011/prov/track/issues/15
>>>>>> Raised by: Luc Moreau
>>>>>> On product: Provenance Terminology
>>>>>> The Provenance WG charter identifies the concept 'Views or
>>>>>> accounts' as a core concept of the provenance interchange language
>>>>>> to be standardized (see http://www.w3.org/2011/01/prov-wg-charter).
>>>>>> What term do we adopt for the concept 'Views or accounts'?
>>>>>> How do we define the concept 'Views or accounts'?
>>>>>> Where does concept 'Views or accounts' appear in ProvenanceExample?
>>>>>> Which provenance query requires the concept 'Views or accounts'?
>>>>>> Wiki page:http://www.w3.org/2011/prov/wiki/ConceptViewsOrAccounts
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> --
> Professor Luc Moreau
> Electronics and Computer Science   tel:   +44 23 8059 4487
> University of Southampton          fax:   +44 23 8059 2865
> Southampton SO17 1BJ               email: l.moreau@ecs.soton.ac.uk
> United Kingdom                     http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~lavm
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Dr Simon Miles
Lecturer, Department of Informatics
Kings College London, WC2R 2LS, UK
+44 (0)20 7848 1166
Received on Tuesday, 31 May 2011 16:25:15 GMT

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