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Controlled flexibility in blockchain-based collaborative business processes
Abstract and Figures
Blockchain technology enables the execution of collaborative business processes involving mutually untrusted parties. Existing tools allow such processes to be modeled using high-level notations and compiled into smart contracts that can be deployed on blockchain platforms. However, these tools do not provide mechanisms to cope with the flexibility requirements inherent to open and dynamic collaboration environments. In particular, existing tools adopt a static role binding approach wherein roles are bound to actors upfront when a process instance is created. Also, these tools do not allow participants to collectively make choices regarding alternative sub-processes or branches in the process model, at runtime. This paper presents a model for dynamic binding of actors to roles in collaborative processes and an associated binding policy specification language. The proposed language is endowed with a Petri net semantics, thus enabling policy consistency verification. Furthermore, the paper introduces a model for consensus-based control-flow flexibility, wherein participants in a process can collectively agree on how to steer the business process within the boundaries defined by control-flow agreement policies. The paper also outlines an approach to compile policy specifications into smart contracts for enforcement. An experimental evaluation shows that the cost of policy enforcement increases linearly with the number of roles, control-flow elements, and policy constraints.
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