Ontology-driven analysis of UML-based collaborative processes using OWL-DL and CPN
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Science of Computer Programming 75 (8): 726--760 (August 2010)

A key ingredient in system and organization modeling is modeling business processes that involve the collaborative participation of different teams within and outside the organization. Recently, the use of the Unified Modeling Language (UML) for collaborative business modeling has been increasing, thanks to its human-friendly visual representation of a rich set of structural and behavioral views, albeit its unclear semantics. In the meantime, the use of the Web Ontology Language (OWL) has also been emerging, thanks to its clearly-defined semantics, hence being amenable to automatic analysis and reasoning, although it is less human friendly than, and also perhaps not as rich as, the UML notation -- especially concerning processes, or activities. In this paper, we view the UML and the OWL as being complementary to each other, and exploit their relative strengths. We provide a mapping between the two, through a set of mapping rules, which allow for the capture of UML activity diagrams in an OWL-ontology. This mapping, which results in a formalization of collaborative processes, also sets a basis for subsequent construction of executable models using the Colored Petri Nets (CPN) formalism. For this purpose, we also provide appropriate mappings from OWL-based ontological elements into CPN elements. A case study of a mortgage granting system is described, along with the potential benefits and limitations of our proposal.
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