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Online Conformance Checking – Incrementally Computing Optimal Prefix-Alignments on Event Streams

September 25th, 2020 | by

This post is by Daniel Schuster, Scientific Assistant in the Fraunhofer FIT. Contact him via email for further inquiries.

The execution of (business) processes generates valuable traces of event data in the information systems employed within companies. Recently, approaches for monitoring the correctness of the execution of running processes have been developed in the area of process mining, i.e., online conformance checking. The advantages of monitoring a process’ conformity during its execution are clear. Deviations are detected as soon as they occur and countermeasures can be initiated immediately to reduce the potential negative effects caused by process deviations.

The figure below outlines the general scenario. During process execution, events are emitted on an event stream. Each event triggers a conformance check, which validates the sequence of activities already executed for a specific process instance against a specific reference process model. Therefore, non-conformity within process executions is detected the moment it occurs.

Existing work in online conformance checking so far only allowed for obtaining approximations of non-conformity, e.g., overestimating the actual severity of the deviation. In our paper [1], we present an exact, parameter-free, online conformance checking algorithm that computes conformance checking results on the fly. Our algorithm exploits the fact that the conformance checking problem can be reduced to a shortest path problem, by incrementally expanding the search space and reusing previously computed intermediate results. Thus, as shown by the conducted experiments, we can outperform existing approximation algorithms and at the same time guarantee optimality, i.e., no false negatives in terms of deviation detection.

[1] Schuster, D. and van Zelst, S. J.: Online Process Monitoring Using Incremental State-Space Expansion: An Exact Algorithm. In: 18th Int. Conference on Business Process Management. (2020)

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