Active provenance for data intensive research
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The role of provenance information in data-intensive research is a significant topic of discussion among technical experts and scientists. Typical use cases addressing traceability, versioning and reproducibility of the research findings are extended with more interactive scenarios in support, for instance, of computational steering and results management. In this thesis we investigate the impact that lineage records can have on the early phases of the analysis, for instance performed through near-real-time systems and Virtual Research Environments (VREs) tailored to the requirements of a specific community. By positioning provenance at the centre of the computational research cycle, we highlight the importance of having mechanisms at the data-scientists’ side that, by integrating with the abstractions offered by the processing technologies, such as scientific workflows and data-intensive tools, facilitate the experts’ contribution to the lineage at runtime. Ultimately, by encouraging tuning and use of provenance for rapid feedback, the thesis aims at improving the synergy between different user groups to increase productivity and understanding of their processes. We present a model of provenance, called S-PROV, that uses and further extends PROV and ProvONE. The relationships and properties characterising the workflow’s abstractions and their concrete executions are re-elaborated to include aspects related to delegation, distribution and steering of stateful streaming operators. The model is supported by the Active framework for tuneable and actionable lineage ensuring the user’s engagement by fostering rapid exploitation. Here, concepts such as provenance types, configuration and explicit state management allow users to capture complex provenance scenarios and activate selective controls based on domain and user-defined metadata. We outline how the traces are recorded in a new comprehensive system, called S-ProvFlow, enabling different classes of consumers to explore the provenance data with services and tools for monitoring, in-depth validation and comprehensive visual-analytics. The work of this thesis will be discussed in the context of an existing computational framework and the experience matured in implementing provenance-aware tools for seismology and climate VREs. It will continue to evolve through newly funded projects, thereby providing generic and user-centred solutions for data-intensive research.