IIIT Hyderabad Publications
Consistency and Failure Handling in Electronic Contracts
Author: Nishtha Madaan
Report no: IIIT/TH/2016/16
Advisor:Kamalakar Karlapalem,Radhakrishna Pisipati
E-contracts are textual documents describing various contractual assignments/tasksand dependencies among contractual elements such as parties, activities, clauses, exceptions and payments. The dependencies and constraints in e-contract can be differently stated in different parts of large documents. Inconsistencies in the e-contract document, particularly the contract activities and clauses specification, may lead to failures during contract enactment. The thesis work focuses on (i) ensuring consistency at specification level, (ii) failure detection through consistency checking and their handling at execution levelduring e-contract enactmentand(iii) failure preventionby assessing the possible failuresthat may arise due to inconsistent task specifications (leads to violation of constraints during execution) and thereby avoid from abnormal termination of workflow execution.To determine the consistency of an e-contract document, we construct two graphs namelySentence Dependency Graphand Contract Element Dependency Graphfrom dependencies existing in the contract document. We also develop a methodology usingthese two graphs for consistency detection in an e-contract. We also present an evaluation of our approach on a sample contract document and come up with visualization for showing dependencies of contract elements which are present in the document contract. Since contracts may evolve over a period of time, an e-contract enactment system should adapt to changing requirements. For this purpose, we use the concept of Meta Execution Workflowsfor e-contract enactment. Meta execution workflows allow modification of the workflow execution engine process to support design and run time changes. In this thesis, we present a framework to execute workflows in a seamless manner by handling exceptions and failures, and thereby ensuring consistency during e-contract execution. Our framework, using meta execution engine, representsthe workflow execution engine and other components of WFMSin terms of workflows. Our system allows specification, instantiation, modification and execution of workflows on-the-fly with less human intervention even when failures occur.We also provide design and implementation aspects of Failure Resilient Workflow System (FRWS)and demonstrate its applicability for different failure scenarios of anexample e-contract.Though the proposed solution is specific to e-contract enactment, it can be made generic and applied to other domains where the business processes are modeled using workflows.
Full thesis: pdf
Centre for Data Engineering
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