Discovering hidden dependencies in constraint-based declarative process models for improving understandability

Johannes De Smedt, Jochen De Weerdt, Estefania Serral, Jan Vanthienen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Flexible systems and services require a solid approach for modeling and enacting dynamic behavior. Declarative process models gained plenty of traction lately as they have proven to provide a good fit for the problem at hand, i.e.visualizing and executing flexible business processes. These models are based on constraints that impose behavioral restrictions on process behavior. Essentially,a declarative model is a set of constraints defined over the set of activities in a process. While allowing for very flexible process specifications, a major downside is that the combination of constraints can lead to behavioral restrictions not explicitly visible when reading a model. These restrictions, so-called hidden dependencies, make the models much more difficult to understand. This paper presents a technique for discovering hidden dependencies and making them explicit by means of dependency structures. Experiments with novice process modelers demonstrate that the proposed technique lowers the cognitive effort necessary to comprehend a constraint-based process model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-52
JournalInformation Systems
Volume74
Issue number1
Early online date31 Jan 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2018

Keywords

  • declarative process modeling
  • declare
  • hidden dependencies
  • constraint-based process models
  • model comprehension
  • empirical research

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