On the 8 and 9th of February 2018, we gathered with an international group of process mining researchers to discuss the many challenges in the field of conformance checking. The event was organized by the Flemish Scientific Research Community on Process Mining (htpps://www.srcprocessmining.org), a community that is led by our research group, together with KULeuven and UGent. The brainstorm session was attended by researchers from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, RWTH Aachen University, the Technical University of Eindhoven and the Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien.
In an aptly historical setting, on the former grounds of the mining site of Eisden, far away from the familiar course of academic life, attendants were challenged to take part in several discussions on the future of conformance checking, articulating short-comings of current techniques as well as opportunities and challenges for the field.
On the agenda were several topics: the need for clear use cases, trade-offs and hierarchies between quality dimensions, the role of generalization, desirable properties for quality metrics, etc. Which are the kind of conformance checking tools that practitioners expect, and how is the research field able to currently provide these? What can we learn from other fields, such as data science and statistics? And for which problems do we fail to propose appropriate solutions? Plenty of topics for future research, no doubt about that.
As outcome of the two-day brainstorm, the participants committed to publishing a Conformance Checking Manifesto, which will create a shared foundation of terminology, key concepts and use cases, as well as indicate the many challenges ahead. As a result, it will serve as a guide for current and prospective researchers in the conformance checking area.
In between the discussions there were several refreshing break-out moments, including ascents of the historical mine shaft as well as the mine spoil bank, and a guide tour of the UHasselt Ecotron, a field research facility with climate-controlled units for the measurements of complex ecological processes. I think we can look back at a very fruitful and pleasant brainstorm session and look forward to follow-up actions.