Abstract: On the Web, where resources such as documents and data are published, shared, transformed, and republished, provenance is a crucial piece of metadata that would allow users to place their trust in the resources they access. The Open Provenance Model (OPM) is a community data model for provenance that is designed to facilitate the meaningful interchange of provenance information between systems. Underpinning OPM is a notion of directed graph, where nodes represent data products and processes involved in past computations, and edges represent dependencies between them; it is complemented by graphical inference rules allowing new dependencies to be derived. Until now, however, the OPM model was a purely syntactical endeavor. The present paper extends OPM graphs with an explicit distinction between precise and imprecise edges. Then a formal semantics for the thus enriched OPM graphs is proposed, by viewing OPM graphs as temporal theories on the temporal events represented in the graph. The original OPM inference rules are scrutinized in view of the semantics and found to be sound but incomplete. An extended set of graphical rules is provided and proved to be complete for inference. The paper concludes with applications of the formal semantics to inferencing in OPM graphs, operators on OPM graphs, and a formal notion of refinement among OPM graphs.
Citation: Natalia Kwasnikowska, Luc Moreau, and Jan Van den Bussche. A formal account of the open provenance model. ACM Transactions on the Web, February 2015.