Mining business process variants: Challenges, scenarios, algorithms

Chen Li, Manfred Reichert, Andreas Wombacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


During the last years a new generation of process-aware information systems has emerged, which enables process model configurations at buildtime as well as process instance changes during runtime. Respective model adaptations result in a large number of model variants that are derived from the same process model, but slightly differ in structure. Generally, such model variants are expensive to configure and maintain. In this paper we address two scenarios for learning from process model adaptations and for discovering a reference model out of which the variants can be configured with minimum efforts. The first one is characterized by a reference process model and a collection of related process variants. The goal is to improve the original reference process model such that it fits better to the variant models. The second scenario comprises a collection of process variants, while the original reference model is unknown; i.e., the goal is to “merge‿ these variants into a new reference process model. We suggest two algorithms that are applicable in both scenarios, but have their pros and cons. We provide a systematic comparison of the two algorithms and further contrast them with conventional process mining techniques. Comparison results indicate good performance of our algorithms and also show that specific techniques are needed for learning from process configurations and adaptations. Finally, we provide results from a case study in automotive industry in which we successfully applied our algorithms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-434
Number of pages26
JournalData & knowledge engineering
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • Process change
  • SCS-Services
  • Process configuration
  • Process mining
  • Process variant


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