Scientific Workflows

A workflow is the computerised facilitation or automation of a business, scientific or engineering process, in whole or part. The automation of procedures concern data, documents, information, or tasks that are passed between participants according to a defined set of rules to achieve, or contribute to, an overall goal. Whilst workflow may be manually organised, in practice most workflow is normally encapsulated within the context of an IT system to provide computerised support for the procedural automation. The concept of 'Scientific Workflows' – we consider scientific and engineering workflows being equivalent – is as an amalgamation of scientific problem-solving and traditional workflow techniques.

Scientific workflows share many features of business workflows, but also go beyond them. Many known workflow results and techniques can be leveraged in scientific settings, and many additional features of scientific applications can be usefully deployed in business settings. Scientific workflows promise to become an important area of research within workflow and process automation, and will lead to the development of the next generation of problem-solving and decision-support environments. Scientific workflows often begin as research workflows and end up as production workflows eventually employed by a large number of users. Early in the lifecycle, they require considerable human intervention and collaboration; later they begin to be executed increasingly automatically. For instance, multidisciplinary simulation or complex data mining operations require the specification of complex workflows that are data and process centric.

Workflow Composition and Execution

Goals and Achievements

Aim is to develop a workflow system for large scale scientific/engineering applications in a virtual organisation environment and operated within a Grid environment. Currently, Grid workflows are still in the early stages of research and development and some features of the application of workflow technology in a Grid are thoroughly investigated by other national and international projects. We will investigate workflow issues as they pertain to the entire workflow lifecycle, starting from the reuse of generic idioms for composing groups of tasks, to the tracking of the progress of a complex task or workflow from the initial formulation of desired end tasks or data products through to execution, including refinement and repair. The aim is to provide a top-level integration platform to allow services to be easily composed and executed by the end users who are domain experts and service consumers, in a Grid environment. The technology will be eventually endorsed by the four application clusters, Aerospace, Automotive, Meteorology and Pharmaceutical, respectively.

Role in SIMDAT

Within the SIMDAT framework, InforSense will ensure that the generic Grid technology developed for the solution of complex cross-application problems will be used in several industrial application sectors. Also, we will exploit commercially the approach and proven results of the SIMDAT project, demonstrating the benefits of Grid–based approaches for the management of engineering, scientific and engineering data and encouraging the uptake of the SIMDAT technology.

Te results of this techonology can be found under Grid Solution Portfolio at Workflow.