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Managing Provenance for Knowledge Discovery and Reuse

TitleManaging Provenance for Knowledge Discovery and Reuse
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsKoop D
Academic DepartmentSchool of Computing
Date Published05/2012
UniversityThe University of Utah
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy

Serving as a record of what happened during a scientific process, often computational, provenance has become an important piece of computing. The importance of archiving not only data and results but also the lineage of these entities has led to a variety of systems that capture provenance as well as models and schemas for this information. Despite significant work focused on obtaining and modeling provenance, there has been litte work on managing and using this information. Using the provenance from past work, it is possible to mine common computational structure or determine differences between executions. Such information can be used to suggest possible completions for partial workflows, summarize a set of approaches, or extend past work in new directions. These applications require infrastructure to support efficient queries and accessible reuse.

In order to support knowledge discovery and reuse from provenance information, the management of those data is important. One component of provenance is the specification of the computations; workflows provide structured abstractions of code and are commonly used for complex tasks. Using change-based provenance, it is possible to store large numbers of similar workflows compactly. This storage also allows efficient computation of differences between specifications. However, querying for specific structure across a large collection of workflows is difficult because comparing graphs depends on computing subgraph isomorphism which is NP-Complete. Graph indexing methods identify features that help distinguish graphs of a collection to filter results for a subgraph containment query and reduce the number of subgraph isomorphism computations. For provenance, this work extends these methods to work for more exploratory queries and collections with significant overlap. However, comparing workflow or provenance graphs may not require exact equality; a match between two graphs may allow paired nodes to be similar yet not equivalent. This work presents techniques to better correlate graphs to help summarize collections.

Using this infrastructure, provenance can be reused so that users can learn from their own and others’ history. Just as textual search has been augmented with suggested completions based on past or common queries, provenance can be used to suggest how computations can be completed or which steps might connect to a given subworkflow. In addition, provenance can help further science by accelerating publication and reuse. By incorporating provenance into publications, authors can more easily integrate their results, and readers can more easily verify and repeat results. However, reusing past computations requires maintaining stronger associations with any input data and underlying code as well as providing paths for migrating old work to new hardware or algorithms. This work presents a framework for maintaining data and code as well as supporting upgrades for workflow computations.