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Provenance concepts

Chronicle uses the W3C Provenance Ontology as the basis for provenance modelling. We present here a summary of the concepts used and their corresponding mutations and GraphQL query structure.

Agent

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An agent is something that bears some form of responsibility for an activity taking place, for the existence of an entity, or for another agent's activity.

Agents in Chronicle can be subtyped and contain attributes, specified by the domain model agents section. Agents can be recorded using the typed agent mutations or can be left untyped.

Activity

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An activity is something that occurs over a period of time and acts upon or with entities; it may include consuming, processing, transforming, modifying, relocating, using, or generating entities. Just as entities cover a broad range of notions, activities can cover a broad range of notions: information processing activities may for example move, copy, or duplicate digital entities; physical activities can include driving a car between two locations or printing a book.

Activities in Chronicle can be subtyped and contain attributes, specified by the domain model section. Agents can be recorded using the typed activity mutations or can be left untyped.

Entity

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In PROV, things we want to describe the provenance of are called entities and have some fixed aspects. The term "things" encompasses a broad diversity of notions, including digital objects such as a file or web page, physical things such as a mountain, a building, a printed book, or a car as well as abstract concepts and ideas. An entity is a physical, digital, conceptual, or other kind of thing with some fixed aspects; entities may be real or imaginary.

Entities in Chronicle can be subtyped and contain attributes, specified by the domain model section. Agents can be recorded using the typed activity mutations or can be left untyped.

Association

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An activity association is an assignment of responsibility to an agent for an activity, indicating that the agent had a role in the activity.

Delegation

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Delegation is the assignment of authority and responsibility to an agent (by itself or by another agent) to carry out a specific activity as a delegate or representative, while the agent it acts on behalf of retains some responsibility for the outcome of the delegated work. For example, a student acted on behalf of his supervisor, who acted on behalf of the department chair, who acted on behalf of the university; all those agents are responsible in some way for the activity that took place but we do not say explicitly who bears responsibility and to what degree.

Derivation

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A derivation is a transformation of an entity into another, an update of an entity resulting in a new one, or the construction of a new entity based on a pre-existing entity.

Chronicle allows the three standard prov subtypes of derivation:

Quotation

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A quotation is the repeat of (some or all of) an entity, such as text or image, by someone who may or may not be its original author. Quotation is a particular case of derivation.

Revision

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A revision is a derivation for which the resulting entity is a revised version of some original. The implication here is that the resulting entity contains substantial content from the original. Revision is a particular case of derivation.

Primary Source

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A primary source for a topic refers to something produced by some agent with direct experience and knowledge about the topic, at the time of the topic's study, without benefit from hindsight. Because of the directness of primary sources, they 'speak for themselves' in ways that cannot be captured through the filter of secondary sources. As such, it is important for secondary sources to reference those primary sources from which they were derived, so that their reliability can be investigated. A primary source relation is a particular case of derivation of secondary materials from their primary sources. It is recognized that the determination of primary sources can be up to interpretation, and should be done according to conventions accepted within the application's domain.

Generation

Usage