The PBase Scientific Workflow Provenance Repository

  • Víctor Cuevas-Vicenttín
  • Parisa Kianmajd
  • Bertram Ludäscher
  • Paolo Missier
  • Fernando Chirigati
  • Yaxing Wei
  • David Koop
  • Saumen Dey


Scientific workflows and their supporting systems are becoming increasingly popular for compute-intensive and data-intensive scientific experiments. The advantages scientific workflows offer include rapid and easy workflow design, software and data reuse, scalable execution, sharing and collaboration, and other advantages that altogether facilitate “reproducible science”. In this context, provenance – information about the origin, context, derivation, ownership, or history of some artifact – plays a key role, since scientists are interested in examining and auditing the results of scientific experiments.

However, in order to perform such analyses on scientific results as part of extended research collaborations, an adequate environment and tools are required. Concretely, the need arises for a repository that will facilitate the sharing of scientific workflows and their associated execution traces in an interoperable manner, also enabling querying and visualization. Furthermore, such functionality should be supported while taking performance and scalability into account.

With this purpose in mind, we introduce PBase: a scientific workflow provenance repository implementing the ProvONE proposed standard, which extends the emerging W3C PROV standard for provenance data with workflow specific concepts. PBase is built on the Neo4j graph database, thus offering capabilities such as declarative and efficient querying. Our experiences demonstrate the power gained by supporting various types of queries for provenance data. In addition, PBase is equipped with a user friendly interface tailored for the visualization of scientific workflow provenance data, making the specification of queries and the interpretation of their results easier and more effective.