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RE: New Paper available for PDF download: Workflow is just a Pi process (or WFM is not BPM)

From: Jean-Jacques Dubray <jeanjadu@Attachmate.com>
Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2003 15:21:51 -0800
Message-ID: <D15269CBED76D51185280008C73323FA023E9492@exch-bel6.attachmate.com>
To: 'Steve Ross-Talbot' <steve@enigmatec.net>
Cc: 'Greg Meredith' <gregmer@microsoft.com>, Andrew Berry <andyb@whyanbeel.net>, public-ws-chor@w3.org

I am a Ph.D., I don't know if that it that makes me a scientist, I am
clearly not a theorist or mathematician so I have trouble grasping what pi
is giving me versus what I need. I have been happily living without pi so

From our discussion I hear that pi gives me:
1) automatic deadlock detection, 
2) a formal composition model that let me describe that how messages are
3) automatic verification (simulation) that something is going to work

As I said, I don't believe what is provided by pi for 1) and 3) are enough
in real life scenario as the results could strongly depend on other
semantics. The question is then to know if you can layer the simulation into
a pi-level and a semantic level (e.g. verify that business rules will not be
violated). The pi level without the other will be of little value to me. If
all pi can deal with is protocol layers (like in a wireless world), which is
a very static layer, I don't see the real benefit.

With respect to 2) I could be the first one to admit that BPSS (as a
composition model) is a duck tape model (it is built on UML activity
diagrams, which itself is based on the activity graph). As John Yunker and
Andrew Barry put it, states might be missing altogether from the pi picture
or as Greg's put it: "locality and distribution are notions almost
completely lacking". In my own language, I could say that process
composition is one thing, state alignment is another. Again, one without the
other has little value for "B" and "W". 

If I could now speak by waving my hands, I would say that the only
difference I see with a Turing machine back then an what is needed of a
Turing machine in the new world of SOA is simply the ability to write back
to either itself or another (new) Turing machine. Of course this write would
need to be synchronized. 

This ubiquitous write capability is not of course practically achievable,
but this is not the point, this is a theoretical point of view (that's
probably as much theory I can come up on my own). I am pretty convinced that
I could re-invent all kinds of distributed models if I had this new Turing

I can infer from this little analogy (if it proves correct) that is there is
the "internal" view of the turing machine(s) that needs to be expressed
somehow (this is what I often refer to orchestration), there is also the
global view of all the turing machine working together to achieve a certain
goal (this is for me what choreography is). I am wondering actually if this
global view is not a normal turing machine, we are simply not looking at it
from a systemic point of view.

I personally could not care less if "B" and "W" would be built on pi, lamda
or petri nets or CSS, duck tape or anything else. I think the value of the
"B" and "W" layers come from the semantics that can be expressed at this
level just like the value of Java and C# is hardly driven from the syntactic
constructs of the language itself and its theoretical foundation, be it duck
tape or the output of the most powerful minds.

However, do I sense that there is a clear consensus that an orchestration
language or a choreography language is not a "business process or workflow
language" like XRL, XPDL or BPSS are? I would go as far as saying that it
may not be the goal of ws-chor and bpel TC to come up with any business
semantics? Or I am profoundly mistaken?


tel: 425-649-6584
Cell: 508-333-7634

-----Original Message-----
From: Steve Ross-Talbot [mailto:steve@enigmatec.net] 
Sent: Monday, November 17, 2003 10:41 AM
To: Jean-Jacques Dubray
Cc: 'Greg Meredith'; Andrew Berry; public-ws-chor@w3.org
Subject: Re: New Paper available for PDF download: Workflow is just a Pi
process (or WFM is not BPM)


see my comments inline.


Steve T

On Monday, November 17, 2003, at 05:00  pm, Jean-Jacques Dubray wrote:

>> It is very difficult to model this without mobility. But, this 
>> scenario is
> all over the place in workflow. It is >especially prevalent in 
> situations involving a broker-- which is one of the most dominant 
> patterns to be found in >the domain.
> It is the most prevalent pattern, simply because the technology that 
> is being sold today cannot support efficiently another pattern. The 
> challenge of SOA is precisely to invent a technology where P2P is the 
> prevalent pattern rather than P2B2P. The role of a broker in SOA is 
> merely reduced to the one of a registry. Nothing says that I want 
> Amazon to find a shipper for me. What if I don't like this shipper, 
> what if I use another shipper which is more efficient for my needs?
> The Broker model, like in EAI brings some economies of scale, but 
> solves the problem by creating other problems, in particular a central 
> focal point.
> This is precisely what SOA projects like ebXML have not built in their 
> architecture. Sure you could be a broker with an ebXML architecture, 
> that would work, but nothing in the architecture would require to have 
> a broker.
> Brokers are useful, but like every good things, we have to use them 
> reasonably.
> So creating a technology that re-enforces this business model (e.g.
> Orchestration as a broker not as a peer) is a non-goal for me.
>> 1. completeness -- i.e. Turing complete 2. compositionality -- the 
>> model is an algebra, the practical advantage of
> which is that large(r) programs are
>> built from small(er) ones 3. concurrency -- the model has an explicit
> account of autonomous execution 4. cost -- >the model has an explicit 
> account of resources like time and space
>> Turing machines, for example, fail on features 2 and 3.
>> Lambda calculus fails on 3 and 4.
>> Petri nets fail on 2.
>> CCS, CSP fail on 4.
> This argumentation is very seducing (I am seduced), but IFAIK, windows 
> operting systems and C# for instance can support all 4 points. Does it 
> mean that windows and C# were build on a pi-foundation? (or maybe I am 
> not understanding what the 4 points are about). I am not questioning 
> the validity of your claims about formal models, I am more questioning 
> the validity of a formal model to get a certain job done. What would 
> pi-calculus give us that a well designed metamodel executed by 
> existing thenology (windows and C#, or JVM/Java) would not give us? 
> What would be the impact of having to use pi-calculus if we establish 
> that this is the only formalism that we can use: do we have to go back 
> and change microprocessor architectures, operating systems, languages? 
> Or would pi-calculus give us hints on how to design the best metamodel 
> of a process?

SRT> You can argue that C# and indeed assembler can be used to build
distributed applications.
SRT> However they have nothing that enables you to do composition in a
distributed environment.
SRT> Compositionality is everything in SOA and indeed any distributed
environment. After all if
SRT> we had no parallel composition (the | operator in pi-calculus)
then all we are doing is using
SRT> sticky tape to glue together what are discrete turing machines. It
is clearly possible to use
SRT> the latter approach since this is what for the most part many of
us have to do to deliver systems
SRT> today. But it's a case of striving for a better world in which
communication (of which parallel
SRT> composition is a consequence) is put at the forefront and is not
an after thought based on
SRT> ad-hoc computer science. What pi-calculus has given the
computational science community
SRT> is a way of understanding communication and parallel composition
in a formal setting so that
SRT> we can ask hard questions like resource usage over a distributed
environment, like what it
SRT> means for two systems to behave in the same way (bi-simulation).
SRT> This doesn't mean that pi-calculus is the only formalism.  
Petri-nets, as Greg has stated, provide
SRT> some of this. What pi does is provide all of this. It doesn't
claim to do so in such a way as to make
SRT> in easy for us mere mortals to understand it's intricacies but it
has given rise to a plethora of process
SRT> algebras from the join-calculus to ambient-calculus and so on.
SRT> While it would be nice to start computational science from a new
begining - just the theorist in me - it
SRT> is not practical to do so. So what process algebras do is inform
us about design decision and perhaps
SRT> allow us to model communication in such a way as to ask the hard
questions such as "am I lockfree?"
SRT> or "do I behave in the same way as this specification" or "find be
a web service that behaves in this way?".
SRT> All of these questions are difficult if not impossible without
some formal model. Pi and process algebras
SRT> are a pretty good place to start. So I think your very last
question is pretty well on the mark.

> Cheers,
> Jean-Jacques Dubray
> Attachmate,
> tel: 425-649-6584
> Cell: 508-333-7634
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Greg Meredith [mailto:gregmer@microsoft.com]
> Sent: Monday, November 17, 2003 8:28 AM
> To: Andrew Berry; Howard N Smith
> Cc: public-ws-chor@w3.org; W.M.P.v.d.Aalst@tm.tue.nl
> Subject: RE: New Paper available for PDF download: Workflow is just a 
> Pi process (or WFM is not BPM)
> Andrew,
> You raise important concerns for workflow. i completely agree with you 
> that a decent account of workflow must address locality/distribution 
> and partial state. But, i must beg to differ on your analysis of the 
> pi-calculus with regards to partial state.
> First, the notion of state must be identified with process in the 
> pi-calculus. Intuitively, a state is represented by what the process 
> can do based on what it "knows", i.e. what actions it is willing to 
> engage in, given what names are in scope. A really good example to 
> consider is modeling a cell where you can store a value. (See,
> http://www.lfcs.informatics.ed.ac.uk/reports/91/ECS-LFCS-91-180/ECS-
> -91-180.ps, page 35.)
> Consider a collection, P_i, of processes. Since each process 
> represents a state, then an aggregate, or partitioned state may be 
> represented by the parallel composition of the P_i's, P = P_0 | P_1 | 
> ... | P_N.
> Notice that in any standard reduction rules for pi-calculus, the rule 
> for reduction in the parallel composition context will allow these 
> processes to reduce independently. Thus,
> P_0 | P_1 | ... | P_N ->* P_0 | ... | P_j' | ... | P_k' | ... | P_N.
> State change has not happened all at once for all of P. Bit's and 
> pieces of it have updated, but not the whole thing. You would have to 
> introduce a protocol, e.g., 2PCPA, amongst the participants of P to 
> get certain kinds of atomicity and isolation guarantees regarding the 
> visibility of state change.
> Fortunately, 2PCPA *is* a protocol and as such can be well described 
> in pi (see Berger and Honda's paper for a treatment of this, 
> ftp://ftp.dcs.qmw.ac.uk/lfp/kohei/express00.ps.gz). Therefore, the 
> agents providing this protocol can be composed with the agents of P to 
> give the overall semantics desired.
> Note that, since this introduces a coding overhead, various 
> researchers in the process algebra community have added primitives to 
> the calculus to abstract this coding. This foreshadows a more general 
> point i want to make that can be illustrated by considering the issue 
> of modeling locality/distribution.
> i completely agree that locality and distribution are notions almost 
> completely lacking in plain vanilla pi-calculus. Unfortunately, i 
> think that a terrible type/token confusion takes over in these 
> discussions. It should be plainly obvious that barebones, plain 
> pi-calculus cannot be used for serious applications like workflow 
> without considerable enrichment. For example,
> 1. real workflow applications will describe message flows branching on 
> numeric computation; the pi-calculus doesn't have a useable theory of 
> numeric computation; and the encodings of numbers to be found-- though 
> quite
> intriguing-- would simply be too arduous with which to code; 2. real 
> workflow applications will describe message flows with complex message 
> structure, e.g. messages with structure like XML documents; neither 
> monadic nor polyadic pi-calculus is up to this task; 3. real workflow 
> applications require that there is not a global name manager; plain 
> vanilla pi-calculus requires that there *is* one; 4. real workflow 
> applications are probably not going to require a heavy-weight protocol 
> to ensure-- in a distributed
> setting-- the summation semantics the pi-calculus delineates.
> That said, the pi-calculus provides a *framework* in which to develop 
> the appropriate formalism. This framework is objectively and 
> demonstrably different from the other models of computation put 
> forward.
> And, it is better suited to the modeling of domains like workflow than 
> any other model put forward so far. i will return to this point in a 
> moment.
> So, as long as we recognize that the pi-calculus is really a stand in 
> for the class of mobile process algebras, then we are much more likely 
> to achieve an understanding of how the pi-calculus can genuinely help 
> model scenarios in the workflow domain. With respect to distribution 
> and locality, there are several very variations of the pi-calculus 
> that provide very useful accounts of these notions. For example, 
> Vasconselos, et al, recently developed lsd-pi which addresses 
> distribution in a typed setting 
> (http://www.di.fc.ul.pt/~vv/papers/02-4.pdf). Another approach to 
> these problems is found in the join-calculus of Fournet 
> (http://www.cs.unibo.it/~laneve/papers/bisim.ps), et al. Another 
> approach is found in the work of Wischik, et al, on explicit fusions 
> (http://www.cs.unibo.it/~laneve/papers/fm-eabs-concur02.ps).
> Just as you will have to adapt the framework to provide a variant that 
> deals with complex message structure, you will have to adapt the 
> framework to provide a variant that deals with distribution. There are 
> several flavors.
> Try a few on a few problems and see which one is better suited. If 
> none are suited, that's wonderful, we have discovered something!
> Now, as for the suitability of the framework to this domain, it turns 
> out that the mobile process algebras are the first model of 
> computation to simultaneously enjoy four features
> 1. completeness -- i.e. Turing complete 2. compositionality -- the 
> model is an algebra, the practical advantage of which is that large(r) 
> programs are built from small(er) ones 3.
> concurrency
> -- the model has an explicit account of autonomous execution 4. cost
> -- the
> model has an explicit account of resources like time and space
> Turing machines, for example, fail on features 2 and 3.
> Lambda calculus fails on 3 and 4.
> Petri nets fail on 2.
> CCS, CSP fail on 4.
> And, of course, each one of these also has the very same issue in that 
> they are abstractions, frameworks, not ready-made models, and will 
> have to be adapted to fit the domain. For example, it would be much 
> too onerous to use Church numerals (ala lambda calculus) to do the 
> arithmetic calculations on which to make workflow decisions.
> Noting that the pre-mobile process algebras only lack a notion of 
> cost, it is most instructive to see how the introduction of mobility 
> simultaneously provides many important features of both practical and 
> theoretical import.
> For example, an account of space consumption of a program is available 
> in pi (and its variants): count the fresh names generated by a 
> computation.
> It is
> also quite necessary as a practical feature in workflow. Consider the 
> following scenario.
> Consumer goes to a well known port of Provider (www.amazon.com) and 
> emits a message containing a port (consumer@msn.com) at which she 
> would like to be contacted for further interaction. Provider processes 
> consumers message, contacts Shipper and emits a messages to Consumer 
> with, among other things, the port (www.ups.com/tracking) where 
> Consumer may see the status of her purchase.
> It is very difficult to model this without mobility. But, this 
> scenario is all over the place in workflow. It is especially prevalent 
> in situations involving a broker-- which is one of the most dominant 
> patterns to be found in the domain.
> In my brief experience with the domain i have found that the four 
> features outlined above constitute a bare minimum of requirements of 
> the computational model necessary to model workflow without imposing 
> undue labor on the part of the modeler. The mobile process algebras 
> are objectively, the first models of computation to enjoy these 
> properties simultaneously.
> Very likely, now that we have examples of models that enjoy these 
> properties together we will come up with new and better ones. But, the 
> only way i know how to do that is to go about the job of modeling real 
> application scenarios with the best technology available and seeing 
> where the technology falls short, and then, seeing what it takes (from 
> minor tweak to paradigm
> shift)
> to account for what's actually happening or needs to happen in the 
> application.
> Best wishes,
> L.G. Meredith
> P.S. There is a coda to this discussion regarding the difference 
> between modeling workflow and providing *public descriptions* of a 
> flow. A model may be quite detailed and provide information about 
> implementation and strategy that a business is not interested in 
> revealing to its customers or competitors. A public description has 
> one primary function -- to facilitate search and discovery. Given this 
> distinction, the language in which public descriptions are expressed 
> should *not* be complete.
> Fortunately, in this connection, the mobile process algebras present 
> another distinguishing characteristic. Over the past decade, a notion 
> of behavioral typing has emerged and been effected in the mobile 
> process algebra setting.
> The languages for these types have exactly the right properties to be 
> used as the basis for public descriptions of processes.
> See my recent paper in the ACM for a more detailed discussion of these 
> points.
> (http://portal.acm.org/
> citation.cfm?id=944217.944236&coll=portal&dl=ACM&
> idx=J79&part=magazine&WantType=Magazines&title=CACM)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: public-ws-chor-request@w3.org
> [mailto:public-ws-chor-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Andrew Berry
> Sent: Monday, November 17, 2003 2:57 AM
> To: Howard N Smith
> Cc: public-ws-chor@w3.org; W.M.P.v.d.Aalst@tm.tue.nl
> Subject: Re: New Paper available for PDF download: Workflow is just a 
> Pi process (or WFM is not BPM)
> Howard,
> You have a fundamental problem with the choice of Pi Calculus: there 
> is no concept of locality or partial state. In choreography and web 
> services in general, you can guarantee that participants (processes) 
> are physically distributed and need to make choices based on a partial 
> view of state.
>  To
> successfully model, program and reason about these processes, you need 
> to be able to identify and reason about partial states.
> Consider your deferred choice semantics.  If the processes identified 
> as choices are physically distributed, you *cannot* make a choice 
> without synchronisation of processes because distinct choices can be 
> made in a truly concurrent fashion.  Pi Calculus has no way of 
> identifying this issue, let alone reasoning about it.  Explicit 
> synchronisation processes, while solving the problem for a given 
> process, require that the programmer reason about distribution and 
> locality outside the bounds of the Pi Calculus semantics.
> I would therefore argue that a worflow and in particular a 
> choreography is not a Pi Process.
> Ciao,
> AndyB
> On Wednesday, November 12, 2003, at 03:00  AM, Howard N Smith wrote:
>> Choreography pioneers,
>> Following a short conversation with Steve R-T, he agreed for me to 
>> send you this paper.
>> It is intended as a draft for discussion.
>> The paper is new information. It shows how, based on BPML, it is 
>> possible to model all of the advanced workflow patterns identified by 
>> workflow theorists, whereas most workflow engines only support approx 
>> 50% of patterns directly and very few of the advanced patterns.
>> In addition, it gives insights into the BPML implementation inherent 
>> to a BPMS, and how a BPMS is able to support many process models not 
>> supported by workflow technology.
>> Screenshots from Intalio|n3 BPMS are given as examples. Further, the 
>> workflow engine itself can be modelled in BPML, as reusable processes 
>> for use in end-to-end processes. The paper was written to more fully 
>> explain the work of BPMI.org and its direction in creating BPMS 
>> foundation technologies.
>> Peter Fingar and I have taken great care with this paper, and do hope 
>> it adds to the understanding of BPML/BPMI/BPMS direction. While the 
>> paper cannot present proof of these claims, you can consider it a 
>> report on the work so far.
>> The paper can be downloaded from:
>> http://www.bpm3.com/picalculus/workflow-is-just-a-pi-process.pdf
>> Regards,
>> Howard
>> ---
>> New Book - Business Process Management: The Third Wave www.bpm3.com
>> Howard Smith/CSC/BPMI.org
>> cell             +44 7711 594 494 (worldwide)
>> home office +44 20 8660 1963

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Received on Monday, 17 November 2003 18:25:46 UTC

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