Introduction to Provenance

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Provenance Metadata:

Definition: A record that describes entities and processes involved in producing and delivering or otherwise influencing a (physical or digital) resource. Provenance provides a critical foundation for assessing authenticity, enabling trust, and allowing reproducibility. Provenance assertions are a form of contextual metadata and can themselves become important records with their own provenance.

Example: For a particular cake, a corresponding provenance record may look like the one below (Figure 1). Here, the cake can be viewed as a type of artifact, created through a sequence of processes (Mix, Bake), each relying upon on alternate artifacts. Often, the ability to distinguish the role (or purpose) of each artifact in a process can be useful. In this case, to distinguish cake ingredients (e.g, sugar) from tools and appliances (e.g., mixing bowl).

Provenance Example

Figure 1 - A provenance record for cake-baking.
Adapted from figure 3, page 5 of Moreau, L. et al. (2010) The Open Provenance Model core specification (v1.1). Future Generation Computer Systems . (In Press)