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Business Processes Modeling

MPB 2023/24 (295AA / 372AA, 6 cfu)

Lecturer: Roberto Bruni

Contact: web - email - phone 050 2212785 - fax 050 2212726

Office hours: Wednesday 16:00-18:00 or by appointment


The course aims to reconcile abstraction techniques and high-level diagrammatic notations together with modular and structural approaches. The objective is to show the impact of the analysis and verification properties of business processes on the choice of the best suited specification and modelling languages. At the end of the course, the students will gain some familiarity with business process terminology, with different models and languages for the representation of business processes, with different kinds of logical properties that such models can satisfy and with different analysis and verification techniques. The students will also experiment with some tools for the design and analysis of business processes.

Course Overview

Business process management. Evolution of Enterprise Systems Architectures. Conceptual models and abstraction mechanisms. Petri nets: invariants, S-systems, T-systems, Free-choice systems and their properties. Workflow nets and workflow modules. Workflow patterns. Event-driven Process Chains (EPC). Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN), Process performance analysis. Process simulation. Process Mining.


Quick reference(s)

Tool(s) 188072_149141125103453_6888195_q.jpg

Oral Exams: schedule

Date Time Name Place
day date time session start Microsoft Teams
date name Project: Pending/Approved
time session end


The evaluation will be based on a group project and an oral exam.

Registration to the exam is mandatory.

The student must demonstrate the ability to put into practice and to execute, with critical awareness, the activities illustrated or carried out under the guidance of the teacher during the course.

Project FAQ

  • What are the prerequisites for having a project assigned? There are no prerequisites, but the teacher will assume that you have already studied all the material of the course (if this is not the case, then it is very likely that you won't be able to deliver the project in time).
  • How many people can work together on the same project? Projects are assigned to individuals or to groups of two people. Exceptionally, groups of three people can be allowed, but a solid motivation is needed.
  • When is it possible to request the project description? After the end of the lectures, any (working) day of the year.
  • How do we request a project description? By sending an email to the teacher (possibly including the text BPM project request in the object, and mandatorily including full names, student ids and email addresses of all students in the group). The teacher will then reply (in a few days) with the project description.
  • Which graphical notation should we use in the modelling? You decide: typically EPC is fine for representing orchestrations, BPMN for both orchestration and choreography (collaboration diagrams).
  • Which tools should we use to design EPC diagrams or BPMN diagrams? Some tools are suggested in this page, but you are free to evaluate any other tool and then choose the one that you prefer. For example some cross-platform tools are: yEd is versatile, user-friendly, has powerful automatic layout features but cannot export diagrams in .epml and .bpmn formats; Visual Paradigm online is also versatile and can export diagrams in several formats; Camunda modeler offers the essential features for drawing nice BPMN diagrams. Please, briefly motivate your choice in the report.
  • Which tools should we use for soundness analysis of workflow nets? My suggestion is to try to use Woped first, and then Woflan as a backup (as a Microsoft Windows application or as a ProM plugin, running on all platforms) if Woped is not responding fast enough or you like to collect information about error sequences to repair your model. If you find out other tools that can be used to the purpose, feel free to use them as well.
  • How do we convert graphical diagrams into workflow nets? I am afraid the short answer is: manually. ProM offers some plugins but the outcome is very different and typically more complex than the one presented in the course. If you find other tools that can help you to speed up the conversion, feel free to use them.
  • When is the deadline for submitting the project? The deadline will be sent by the teacher together with the project description: typically it leaves three weeks to complete the project (but vacation periods are taken into account).
  • What does it happen if we miss the deadline? You will have to request a new project, unless you inform the teacher a few days before the deadline, asking for a short extension of the deadline and explaining the reasons for the delay.
  • What does it happen if a person leaves the group? You must notify immediately the teacher and choose if you prefer to complete the work individually or to request another project later on.
  • How do we deliver the project? You must send the teacher a short project report in .pdf format together with the source files of all diagrams and nets you designed. Optionally, you can submit the soundness analysis checklist (available on the Microsoft Teams channel) for any of your model.
  • When do we discuss the project? Preferably, at the first exam session that follows the delivery of the project.
  • Is it necessary to have already delivered the project in order to register for the exam? No it is not. But of course the project must be delivered in time for being discussed at the actual oral exam.

Exam FAQ

  • How do we register for the exam? As usual, you must enter your choice on the ESAMI portal.
  • What are the dates of the exam? THE DATES ADVERTISED IN THE ESAMI PORTAL ARE NOT NECESSARILY THOSE OF THE ACTUAL EXAM. After you register for the exam, on the basis of the projects received and any other constraint communicated by each student, the teacher will post a tentative schedule on this web page and will inform you by email or on Teams.
  • How is the exam organized? The exam is oral and it is organised in two parts: the first part will focus on the project discussion, the second part will involve all topics covered by the course. Due to the current pandemic situation, all exams will take place remotely, via the Microsoft Teams platform.
  • How is the project discussion organized? ALL GROUP MEMBERS MUST BE PRESENT TO THE PROJECT DISCUSSION. All group members must demonstrate they have participated to all the activites of the project. A negative evaluation of the project may require to rework some parts, submit a revised report and schedule a new exam (possibly at the next exam session). A positive evaluation of the project allows each group member to access the second part of the exam.
  • How is the second part of the exam organized? DIFFERENT GROUP MEMBERS CAN ASK TO SCHEDULE THE SECOND PART OF THE EXAM ON DIFFERENT DAYS. Questions may involve (but are not limited to): most relevant concepts, definitions, terminology and techniques; their intuitive meaning and formalization; proof sketches of formal statements; small-sized exercises. Arguments marked as optional in the lectures table below can be discussed upon student request.
  • Is it possible to pass the first part of the exam and fail the second? Let's hope it won't happen, but yes, it is possible, in which case the student will need to register for one of the next exam sessions. Depending on each single case, a new project may also be assigned.


  • as the course starts:
    Please spend a few minutes to fill the form Background Check that will be helpful to tune the pace and content of the course.
  • change of schedule:
    To avoid conflicts with other classes, lectures are scheduled on tuesday and thursday (instead of wednsday and thursday as previously announced). Due to a previous commitment, the lecture of tuesday 19 is canceled.
    The first lecture wil be held on thursday 21.

Lectures (first half)

Microsoft Teams: Additional material is available on Teams.

N Date Time Room Lecture notes Topics Links
- 19/09 11:00-13:00 canceled
1 21/09 16:00-18:00 L1 Lecture 1 Course introduction:
course objectives, textbooks, BPM aim and motivation, models and abstraction
2 26/09 11:00-13:00 M1 Lecture 2 Introduction to Business Processes:
Taylorism, work units, processes, terminology, organizational structures, process orientation and reengineering, visual notations
3 28/09 16:00-18:00 L1 Exercises
Lecture 3 (1st part)
Alice-Bob car selling scenario

Orchestration diagrams, collaboration diagrams, choreography diagrams
4 Exercises
Lecture 4
Examples and Exercises

Business Process Modelling Abstractions:
Separation of concerns, horizontal abstraction, aggregation abstraction, vertical abstraction
5 Lecture 5
Lecture 6
Business Processes Lifecyle:
design and analysis, configuration, enactment, evaluation, administration and stakeholders

Business Process Methodology:
levels of business processes, business strategies, operational goals, organizational BP, operational BP, implemented BP, design guidelines, from business functions to processes, separation of concerns, sw architectures, individual enterprise applications, enterprise resource planning system, siloed enterprise applications, enterprise application integration, message-oriented middleware, enterprise service computing
6 Lecture 7
Lecture 8 (1st part)
From automata to nets:
Inductive definitions, Kleene star, finite state automata, transition function, destination function, language accepted by an automaton, from automata to Petri nets, places, transitions, tokens

Petri nets basics:
multisets and markings, transition enabling and firing
7 Exercises (from Lecture 7)
Lecture 8 (2nd part)
Petri nets basics:
firing sequences, reachable markings, occurrence graph, modelling with Petri nets, examples

Woped basics
8 Exercises (from Lecture 8)
Lecture 9 (1st part)
Petri nets basics:
modelling with Petri nets, examples and exercises

Woped basics

Behavioural properties:
liveness, non live transitions, dead transitions
9 Lecture 9 (2nd part) Behavioural properties:
place liveness, non live places, dead places, deadlock freedom, boundedness, safeness, cyclicity

Structural properties:
weak and strong connectedness, S-systems, T-systems, free-choice nets
10 Exercises (from Lecture 9)
Lecture 10 (1st part)
Nets as matrices:
markings as vectors, incidence matrices, Parikh vectors, marking equation lemma, monotonicity lemma (1, 2 and corollary)
11 Lecture 10 (2nd part)
Exercises (from Lecture 10)
Lecture 11 (1st part)
Nets as matrices:
boundedness lemma, repetition lemma

S-invariants, fundamental property of S-invariants, alternative characterization of S-invariant, support, positive S-invariants, about boundedness and liveness
12 Lecture 11 (2nd part)
Lecture 13 (1st part)
S-invariants and reachability, T-invariants, fundamental property of T-invariants, alternative characterization of T-invariants, reproduction lemma, about liveness and boundedness

Workflow nets:
definition, syntax sugar, subprocesses, control flow aspects

Lectures (second half)

Microsoft Teams: Additional material is available on Teams.

N Date Time Room Lecture notes Topics Links
13 Exercises (from Lecture 11)
Exercises (from Lecture 13)
Lecture 13 (2nd part)
Lecture 14 (1st part)
Workflow nets:

Analysis of workflow nets:
structural analysis, activity analysis, token analysis, net analysis, verification and validation, reachability analysis, coverability graph, soundness, N*
14 Lecture 12
Lecture 14 (2nd part)
Lecture 15
Exercises (from Lecture 15)
On strong connectedness:
connectedness theorems

Analysis of workflow nets:
strong connectedness of N*, main soundness theorem

Safe Workflow nets:
soundness (and safeness) by construction
15 Exercises (form Lecture 14)
Lecture 16
Exercises (from Lecture 16)
Lecture 17
Exercises (from Lecture 17)
fundamental property of S-systems, S-invariants of S-nets, liveness theorem, reachability lemma, reachability theorem, boundedness theorem, workflow S-nets

circuits and token count on a circuit, fundamental property of T-systems, T-invariants of T-nets, boundedness in strongly connected T-systems, liveness theorem for T-systems, workflow T-nets
16 Lecture 18
A note on P and NP (optional reading)
Free-choice nets:
Fundamental property of free-choice nets, clusters, stable sets, siphons, proper siphons, fundamental property of siphons, siphons and liveness, Rank theorem, traps, place-liveness = liveness in f.c. nets, Commoner's theorem and its complexity issues, Rank theorem and its complexity issues, sound f.c wf nets are safe

Decision problems and computational complexity (optional reading)
17 Exercises (from Lecture 18)
Lecture 19
Lecture 20
Diagnosis of Workflow nets:
Woped, S-components, S-cover, TP-handles, PT-handles, well-handled nets, well-structured wf nets, Woflan, ProM, error sequences, non-live sequences, unbounded sequences

Workflow systems:
I/O interfaces, workflow modules, stuctural compatibility, workflow system, weak soundness
18 Exercises (from Lecture 19)
Exercises (from Lecture 20)
Lecture 21 (1st part)
Events, functions, connectors, EPC diagrams, guidelines, soundness analysis, from EPC to wf nets, net fragments, dummy style, fusion style, unique start, unique end, three transformations, semantics ambiguities, relaxed sound nets, relaxed sound EPC diagrams, from restricted EPC diagrams to f.c. nets
19 Lecture 21 (2nd part)
Exercises (from Lecture 21)
Lecture 22 (1st part)
problems with (X)OR joins, candidate split, corresponding split, matching split, OR join policies (wfa, fc, et), from decorated EPC diagrams to nets

Notation, swimlanes, flow objects, artefacts, connecting objects, collaborations
20 Lecture 22 (2nd part)
Lecture 23
collaborations, choreographies, from BPMN to nets

Quantitative analysis:
Performance dimensions and objectives, KPI, cyle time analysis, Little's law, cost analysis
21 Exercises (from Lecture 22)
Exercises (from Lecture 23)
Lecture 24
Process mining:
intro, Event logs, discovery, conformance, enhancement, perspectives, play-in, play-out, replay, overfitting, underfitting, alpha-algorithm, footprint matrix, naive fitness, improved fitness, comparing footprints

A final note (with project instructions)

Exam sessions

Date Time Room Info
day date time Teams Exam
Exams registration system
The actual date of the oral exam will be agreed with the teacher

Past courses

magistraleinformaticaeconomia/mpb/start.txt · Ultima modifica: 25/09/2023 alle 10:02 (4 giorni fa) da Roberto Bruni