Blog of Joos Buijs

About personal things, process mining and the rest in life.

Posts Tagged ‘Process Mining

A reply on “Some thoughts on Generalization”

with 2 comments

Last week, Dirk Fahland posted an interesting article on his blog about the generalization quality dimension in process mining (/process discovery). Since this is one of the topics I touched during my PhD research I just have to reply because I have a slightly different view, and I have the feeling that two concepts are mixed in the discussion. Unfortunately, this could not be done in a comment to the original post…

Dirk discusses the problem of the confidence one can have in a discovered process model, given an event log. A very related question is “have we seen enough traces”? These are all valid questions that we currently can not confidently answer (i.e. it is ongoing research).

Before I can explain why my view slightly differs, let me first explain our view on the quality dimensions in process discovery.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Joos Buijs

January 15, 2014 at 17:49

Process Mining in 1 minute (by Pallas Athena)

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Couldn’t have explained the wonderfulness of process mining any better myself than this 1-minute video by Pallas Athena.

I also like the other videos on the (Australian) Pallas Athena website.

By the way, did you know that the Process Mining part in BPM|One (Reflect|One) is build and maintained by Futura Technology? And that Peter van den Brand, one of the owners and founders, studied and worked in our group??? Small world, isn’t it 🙂

Joos

PS sorry for the long radio silence but I have been working! Maybe I’ll post something about that later this week…

Written by Joos Buijs

September 7, 2011 at 10:34

ProM 5 versus ProM 6

with 6 comments

About Precisely a week ago I read the ‘How to Get Started With Prom‘ blog post on the Fluxicon Blog (err, ‘Capacitor‘). In this blog post Anne explains how an event log can be constructed, using Nitro in this case, then inspected and finally how a process model can be mined and animated using ProM. Overall, the blog post is very nice, as are all posts at the Fluxicon Blog.

There is however one thing I noticed when I was half-way the post: they use ProM 5! At first I thought, why? I mean, ProM 6 is ProM 6 after all, it’s not 4.5, it’s not 5.3, it’s 6! Therefore, it should be better than 5. Furthermore, Fluxicon, especially Christian, had a great influence in the development of ProM 6: Christian designed the new slick user interface of ProM 6 and also developed XES, the new event log standard on which ProM 6 is based (with backward compatibility with MXML which is used in ProM 5). Furthermore, ProM 6 uses ‘packages’ to wrap plug-ins. Packages can be installed and updated independently of the framework therefore allowing plug-ins to be updated by the authors independently of the release cycle of ProM 6.

So, I wondered, why explain new users how ProM 5 works? Shouldn’t you point them to ProM 6? Let them use the newest process mining tool, the state-of-the-art, with all its improvements. I’m not saying that ProM 5 is bad, of course not, but ProM 6 is better. Or is it?

Of course, I could have emailed Anne this question and I would have received a reply but I want to make this a public discussion. Why/when would you use ProM 5 instead of ProM 6?

Well, I can give a couple of reasons but I would sure like to know yours. And, of course, especially Anne’s reasons for introducing ProM 5 to our new process miners instead of ProM 6.

So, in summary, I believe that the benefits of ProM 6 compared to ProM 5 are:

  • Better graphical interface which is nicer than the one of ProM 5. The main new feature of the GUI of ProM 6, in my opinion, is that it’s object based. A plug-in requires certain object (types) and produces certain others. This allows for dynamic ‘chaining’ of plug-ins, each plug-in taking the analysis one step further;
  • Separation between plug-in and ProM 6 framework. You can choose which plug-ins / packages to install and updates can be made more frequent and independent of the ProM 6 framework updates;
  • Support for the new XES event log format but also still supporting the well-known MXML format;
  • Separation of GUI and execution, if a plug-in crashes the framework keeps running in most cases. Furthermore, it also allows for easier ‘grid deployment’ than ProM 5;

However, at the moment, ProM 5 has more (how much more?) plug-ins to offer. Each ProM 5 plug-in needs to be updated by the author (or a student) in order to run in ProM 6. So if you plan to do sophisticated analysis you might want to keep ProM 5 installed.

To conclude, I think that new process miners should be introduced to ProM 6. The usability is better than that of ProM 5 although for both you need a learning period.
For those more advanced in process mining it is necessary to switch between ProM 5 and ProM 6, depending on the type of analysis you want to perform. Hopefully most of the ProM 5 plug-ins will find their way, some with improvements, to ProM 6.

But, that’s only my opinion, what do you think? Do you think ProM 6 can replace ProM 5 yet? Do you point a new process miner to ProM 5 or ProM 6? And did I miss any (dis)advantages???
Let me know either in a comment on this post, the post at the Fluxicon Capacitor or maybe in a dedicated discussion on LinkedIn.

Looking forward to your opinions!!!

Joos

Written by Joos Buijs

November 22, 2010 at 14:36

Wanted: Beta testers for XESame

with 2 comments

So, finally, the day is approaching that my baby gets the “1.0” label. But, before I dare to put it out there, I would like to have it tested, and not only by me.

So, what (/who) is XESame?
XESame started as XESma during my Master’s project. The goal of XESame is to extract event logs from data sources. The input format can be database tables, text files or even XML files. The output is an eventlog in the XES or MXML format.
A good slogan for XESame would be: “Opens the cave of process mining wonders”, but that would be a bit bragging.

Err, sounds great but then what?
This event log can be used in ProM to apply process mining analysis (which is sometimes called ‘magic‘ (Dutch article), it also produces very colorful and nice pictures…). More about ProM and process mining can be found at processmining.org.

But why do you want to test it now?
In September 2010, at the BPM’10 conference in New York, the ProM 6 framework will be officially released. Included in this framework is XESame. The next few days and weeks ProM 6 will be tested (internally) for the release. Since XESame will be released for the first time and I’m the only one working on it, I would really like some thorough testing and feedback.

Okay, so, how can I help?
Well, you can do several things, depending on what you like to do and how much time you can/will spend. First of all, I would suggest that you download XESame and try to extract an event log from data you have available. Then report back to me if XESame was useful and why (not).
XESame uses JDBC to connect to the data source. Since I can not test XESame on ‘all’ data source types out there, I’m interested in how it works on different types of data sources (e.g. different databases such as MySQL, Oracle, MS SQL, etc.)
Furthermore, if you encounter any errors, please let me know so I can try to fix them.
I’m also very interested in what features are missing and how XESame can provide better guidance in defining an extraction of event log data.

But I already looked at XESMa, do you need my help?
Well, yes, for two reasons: First, what did you think of XESMa when you tried it? Second: the graphical user interface of XESame is completely different from the (rudimentary and bloated) interface of XESMa. So I always need (and will appreciate) your help.

Okay, so how do I get started?
Good question (and I’m glad that you want to get started).

First of all, you need to download XESame of course and run it. Go to the ProM 6 BPM’10 release page and download the latest version of the framework and XESame. This should be under the section ‘Download’ or otherwise ‘History’.
For Windows users there is an xesame.exe file that you can start. For Mac/Linux/… users start the MainFrame class in the org.processminning.mapper.ui package from xesame.jar.
If you didn’t try XESame or XESMa before, it might be a good idea to read my Master’s thesis (PDF, 8Mb), especially chapters 5 and 6 with all the examples. (Not in any way suggesting that chapters 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 are not interesting to read of course.) Although the thesis talks about XESMa a lot, everything should also be applicable for XESame.
And if you’re really interested, look at the XESame source code via http://prom.win.tue.nl:8000/Tracsites/browser/public/XESame/src/org/processmining/mapper or point your SVN client to svn://prom.win.tue.nl/public/XESame (you can use “anonymous/anonymous” for anonymous access, although you cannot commit of course).

Once you’re done fiddling around or when you encounter a serious error or bug or get stuck, contact me and I’ll try to help you. The best way to contact me is to go to my employee page and see if you want to come by my office, give me a call or send me an e-mail (or contact me through Office Communicator on my tue mail address).
Unfortunately, I’m only human so on occasion I might be at the restroom, having lunch or even on holiday (from August 9 until (and including) 20).

So, even if you don’t plan to click on any of the above links, I would like to thank you for reading this post. I hope to hear from you soon and until next time,

Update 28-7-2010 16:50 (CET): I forgot to mention that the ‘official home’ of XESame is http://prom.win.tue.nl/research/wiki/xesame/start (I was too exited…).

Joos

P.S. huge disclaimer follows:
Please note that the author, the department or the university can not be held responsible for any damage caused by direct or indirect usage of XESame (or XESMa). It is recommended that XESame will only be provided read access to the data source and that you run XESame on a copy of the data an not on (the only instance of) the original data source. And of course, XESame is not extensively tested (yet) so it might do strange things to you or your computer. But rest assure, me and my computer survived all months of development.

Written by Joos Buijs

July 27, 2010 at 11:30

The Results of my Master Project

with 2 comments

Update 26-05-2010: The official XESame (or XESMa) website is now located at processmining.org! This post will not be updated further.

So, after 7 months my master project is completed and the results are final!

Last Monday I gave my final presentation (.pptx, 1.7 MB). This presentation gives a good introduction into the problem and topic of my project.

More detailed information about what I did can be found in my master_thesis (.pdf, 9.8 MB). This should also be used as a temporary ‘user guide’ for my application.

Warning: This is a prototype! No support or guarantee is given whatsoever! Use at your own risk!

If you want to test/play with the prototype I created, it can be downloaded at the link below. However, use it at your own risk 😉

XESMa Application Prototype (v 1.0) (.zip, 3.4 MB)

How to start XESMa in 3 steps:

  1. Extract the contents of the zip file;
  2. In Eclipse (or any Java editor), create a new Java Project from the folder you just extracted;
  3. Execute ‘Application.java’ in the org.processmining.mapper.ui package.

Warning: This is a prototype! No support or guarantee is given whatsoever! Use at your own risk!

Now that everything is finished I will enjoy a holiday until May 3. Then I’ll start on a PhD position, here at the TU/e, more about this in another blog post.

I hope I have/get the time to continue to work on XESMa in the future. I have some ideas for improvement. And of course, your feedback is very much appreciated!

Thesis abstract:

Information systems are taking a prominent place in today’s business process execution. Since most
systems are complex, enterprise-wide systems, very few users, if any, have a clear and complete
view of the overall process. In the area of process mining several techniques have been developed to
reverse engineer information about a process from a recording of its execution. To apply process
mining analysis on process-aware information systems, an event log is required. An event log
contains information about cases and the events that are executed on them.
Although many systems produce event logs, most systems use their own event log format.
Furthermore, the information contained in these event logs is not always suitable for process
mining. However, since much data is stored in the data storage of the information system, it is
often possible to reconstruct an event log that can be used for process mining. Extracting this
information from the business data is a time consuming task and requires domain knowledge. The
domain knowledge required to de ne the conversion is most likely held by people from business,
e.g. business analysts, since they know or investigate the business processes and their integration
with technology. In most cases business analysts have no or limited programming knowledge.
Currently there is no tool available that supports the extraction of an event log from a data source
that doesn’t require programming.
This thesis discusses important aspects to consider when de ning a conversion to an event log.
The decisions made in the conversion de nition in
uence the process mining results to a large
extend. De ning a correct conversion for the speci c process mining project at hand is therefore
crucial for the success of the project. A framework to store aspects of such a conversion is also
developed in this thesis. In this framework the extraction of traces and events as well as their
attributes can be de ned. An application prototype, called `XES Mapper’ or `XESMa’, that uses
this conversion framework is build.
The XES Mapper application guides the de nition of a conversion. The conversion can be
de ned without the need to program. The application can also execute the conversion on the data
source, producing an event log in the MXML or XES event log format. This enables a business
analyst to de ne and execute the conversion on their own. The application has been tested with
two case studies. This has shown that many di erent data source structures can be accessed and
converted.

Keywords: data conversion, database, event log, process mining, process-aware information
system

Edit 01-04-2010 11:50: added XESMa execution steps

Written by Joos Buijs

March 31, 2010 at 15:17

Master Project Update: the end is approaching

with one comment

Hi all!

Well, the title says it all, the end of my master’s project is in sight!

The application is ‘nearly done’, there are so many things that could be improved but… well, there is not much time. So, let’s say that the application is at the beta stage then. Yesterday I tried to use it on a real data source instead of my toy database of only 10 records. The results were promising and today I’m processing some of the things we encountered yesterday. For instance the parsing of dates into a Java Date instance is problematic. The format of the date is not always the same and automatically detecting the format used is nearly impossible. Therefore the user (/you) can now define the format used to represent the date and time.

Another type of problem we encountered was related to the ODBC driver but that I can not fix… Other improvements are related to me trying to be too smart (which of course turns out wrong). And some performance issues (but these might be related to the ODBC driver used). And of course a lot of small improvements to the user interface can/should be made etc. So much to do, so little time 🙂

Early this week I also ‘finished’ the visualization of the conversion. The idea is to visualize which tables and columns are used in certain attributes. In the screenshot below a very small event log (with one event definition) is visualized. The conversion uses 2 columns of the event.csv table. I know that the visualization shown is very small and larger visualizations will get messy but it’s hard to get it right… And, well, its only a prototype 😉

I’m also working on my thesis, for about a month now. The contents is structured as follows:

  1. Introduction (context, problem, goal, scope and method of the project) [4 pages]
  2. Preliminaries (explanation of process aware information systems (PAIS), event logs, process mining and other conversion tools) [12 pages]
  3. Conversion Aspects (what to consider when defining a conversion) [8 pages]
  4. Solution Approach (how I planned to implement the application) [7 pages]
  5. Solution Implementation (more details of the technical implementation and use of the application) [14 pages]
  6. Case Studies (2 case studies (SAP and a custom system) to show the validity of my application) [to write]
  7. Conclusion (conclusions and future work) [to write]

So, I still have to perform my case studies, write Chapters 6 and 7 plus the abstract, preface etc. and thoroughly read the entire thesis. And all of that within the next 2 to 3 weeks. And then I’ll have to wait for the reviews of my supervisors and prepare for the final presentation of March 29…

You are all invited for my final presentation of course!!! It will be held at March 29 2010 at 15:00 in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. If you like to attend, please let me know then I’ll inform you of the location.

If you can not attend the final presentation and/or want to read my thesis or try out my application, keep an eye on this blog. I’ll post a link to both of them just before or after my final presentation.

So, now I’m going back to programming again (stupid SQL error…) and enjoy the weekend in a little bit.

TTFN!

Joos

Written by Joos Buijs

February 19, 2010 at 17:17

Process Mining: A quick overview of web resources on the subject

with 3 comments

Process mining is a hot research subject considering the large number of publications (see for instance Google Scholar and the full publication list of Wil van der Aalst).

Besides official publications there are of course less ‘official’ and less scientific writings about the subject. I was curious what I would find so I started a search on the world wide web…

The number 1 result is of course www.processmining.org, home of the well-known tools ProM and ProM Import developed at the TU/e. This website also explains the basics of process mining. A better introduction to the subject for ‘newbies’ might be the Wikipedia article on Process Mining.

Personally, I would put the LinkedIn group on Process Mining third. This group contains discussions on the subject and links to interesting (blog) posts are added. Another community around process mining is formed by the ProM-user and ProM-developer mailing lists. The ProM forum is not much used but has my personal preference above the (‘old fashioned’) mailing lists.

For those already more in to process mining the ‘IEEE task force on process mining’-wiki could be of interest. Extra tip: add the wiki changes RSS feed to your RSS reader 😉

Business people excited about the possibilities of process mining should visit the following websites of companies that support process mining (in no particular order or claim of completeness):

  • Futura Process Intelligence The first company specifically aimed at process mining, based in Eindhoven. Especially the ’14 day challenge’ should appeal.
  • Fluxicon Possibly the second company specifically aimed at process mining 😉 Also based in Eindhoven (must have a reason…). This ‘new kid on the block’ is one to keep your eye on, curious to see where they are say 2 years from now.
  • Surprisingly, the next company is also based in Eindhoven. MagnaView visualizes data and now also supports several process mining visualizations.
  • Process mining as a business has crossed the waters to Norway. Businesscape provides the ‘Enterprise Visualization Suite’ incorporating several process mining techniques.
  • Process mining is also incorporated in tools such as ARIS from IDS Scheer, BPM|One from Pallas Athena and Fujitsu’s ESI (although they call it Automated Process Discovery but its the same… (they disagree! but that’s not true…))
  • And of course I forgot many other great companies… (let me know in the comments!)

Next, blog posts. There are many of them ‘out there’, some of them even talk about process mining. A (very) small selection is provided below, no selection is made on quality or actuality.

Recently, I discovered that research on the subject of process mining is also spreading to Italy and its already spread to Germany, America and Australia.

Well, I hoped I provided at least a few pointers for further reading.

Joos

Edit 28-01-’10: corrected some small typing mistakes
Edit 30-07-’10: Entered the correct link to the IEEE TFPM *oops*

Written by Joos Buijs

January 22, 2010 at 17:58