RE: PROV-ISSUE-223 (definition-of-entity): What is the definition of entity [prov-dm]

First, I think that we define entity in contrast to activity, so people will only get what we're intending once they've read both definitions. I don't think this is a problem, but means each definition will necessarily be somewhat incomplete by itself.

I propose:

"An entity is a physical, digital, conceptual, or other kind of thing; things may be real or imaginary."


Dr Simon Miles
Senior Lecturer, Department of Informatics
Kings College London, WC2R 2LS, UK
+44 (0)20 7848 1166

Requirements for Provenance on the Web:

From: Paul Groth []
Sent: 03 April 2012 06:37
To: Luc Moreau
Cc: Jim McCusker;
Subject: Re: PROV-ISSUE-223 (definition-of-entity): What is the definition of entity [prov-dm]

Hi Luc

I think the definition is fine. If anything the first sentence should be dropped.

The fact that we can lookup the provenance of other things is beside the point...


On Apr 3, 2012, at 0:03, Luc Moreau <<>> wrote:

Hi Jim,

I don't think that's what we want.
prov:Entity is essentially a continuent, whereas prov:activity is an occurrent.

What's a simpler way of defining prov:entity?


On 02/04/12 22:57, Jim McCusker wrote:
For what it's worth, this would align with the Basic Formal Ontology definition of Entity:

Entity is a Continuent or Occurrent.

Continuent: An entity [bfo:Entity] that exists in full at any time in which it exists at all, persists through time while maintaining its identity and has no temporal parts.

Occurrent: An entity [bfo:Entity] that has temporal parts and that happens, unfolds or develops through time. Sometimes also called perdurants.


On Mon, Apr 2, 2012 at 5:41 PM, Luc Moreau <<>> wrote:

We are now defining entity as follows:

An entity is a thing one wants to provide provenance for. For the purpose of this specification, things can be physical, digital, conceptual, or otherwise; things may be real or imaginary.

Unfortunately, we also provide provenance for activities, etc.
Last week, we agreed we could query the provenance of anything that was identifiable.

So, the definition of entity is too broad.
How should it be revised?  Can reviewers think about it?


On 19/01/12 09:15, Provenance Working Group Issue Tracker wrote:

PROV-ISSUE-223 (definition-of-entity): What is the definition of entity [prov-dm]

Raised by: Luc Moreau
On product: prov-dm

The prov-dm documents has some form of definition for entity [1] and entity record [2] (likewise, activity [5] and activity record [6]).

Recent discussions indicate that the definitions are not rigorous enough, and subject to too much interpretation.

Indications that an entity can potentially characterize multiple things [3], or that an entity is a class definition [4] are examples of the breadth of interpretation.

The WG should aim to refine these definitions.


Jim McCusker
Programmer Analyst
Krauthammer Lab, Pathology Informatics
Yale School of Medicine<> | (203) 785-6330

PhD Student
Tetherless World Constellation
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute<>

Received on Tuesday, 3 April 2012 08:33:18 UTC