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Workflow is just a Pi-process debate

Blog: Business Process Management - JC Reddy

Howard Smith and Peter Fingar caused a lot of commotion in the BPM/Workflow community when they asserted that “Workflow is just a pi-process” in this paper. You can follow the threads of that never ending debate on the W3C WS Choreography mailing list and on the Workflow Research Forum.

While the title is an attention grabber, I find that assertion to be useless, even if it is true. Howard and Peter make this assertion on the basis that BPML, which apparently takes inspiration from Pi-C, can successfully model the majority or all of these workflow patterns, and it can model the workflow engine itself (nothing to get excited about, a workflow engine can model itself).

So, what does that buy me? Pi-C, being Turing-complete, is capable of describing almost anything, but not always the best choice. Unless one wants to go to the extent of considering the number “1” a process, almost always one will add additional modeling layers on top of a theoretical framework such as Pi-C, rendering the theory less useful in offering formal semantics. In theory, the entire ERP system is a Pi-process, if anyone will implement it that way is questionable.

Anyway, there are a lot of insightful posts in the threads above, for those interested.

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