The WfCommons Project

The WfCommons project is an open source framework for enabling scientific workflow research and development by providing foundational tools for analyzing workflow execution instances, and generating synthetic, yet realistic, workflow instances that can be used to develop new techniques, algorithms and systems that can overcome the challenges of efficient and robust execution of ever larger workflows on increasingly complex distributed infrastructures.

The figure below shows an overview of the research and development life cycle that integrates the four major components WfCommons: (i) workflow execution instances (WfInstances), (ii) workflow recipes (WfChef), (iii) workflow generator (WfGen), and (iv) workflow simulator (WfSim).


The WfCommons conceptual architecture.

WfInstances. The WfInstances component provides a collection and curation of open-access production workflow instances from various scientific applications, all made available using a common format (i.e., WfFormat). A workflow instance is built based on logs of an actual execution of a scientific workflow on a distributed platform (e.g., clouds, grids, clusters) using a workflow system. We keep a list of workflow execution instances in our project website.

WfChef. The WfChef component automates the construction of synthetic workflow generators (recipes) for any given workflow application. The input to this component is a set of real workflow instances described in the WfFormat (e.g., instances available in WfInstances).

WfGen. The WfGen component targets the generation of realistic synthetic workflow instances. WfGen takes as input a workflow recipe produced by WfChef for a particular application and a desired number of tasks. WfGen then automatically generates synthetic, yet realistic, randomized workflow instances with (approximately) the desired number of tasks.

WfSim. The WfCommons project fosters the use of simulation for the development, evaluation, and verification of scheduling and resource provisioning algorithms (e.g., multi-objective function optimization, etc.), evaluation of current and emerging computing platforms (e.g., clouds, IoT, extreme scale, etc.), among others. We do not develop simulators as part of the WfCommons project. Instead, the WfSim component catalogs open source WMS simulators that provide support for WfFormat. We keep a list of open source workflow management systems simulators and simulation frameworks on our project website.


The WfCommons project uses a common format for representing workflow execution instances and generated synthetic workflows instances. Workflow simulators and simulation frameworks that support WfFormat can then use both types of instances interchangeably. WfFormat uses a JSON specification available in the WfFormat Schema GitHub repository. The current version of the WfCommons Python package uses the schema version 1.1. The schema GitHub repository provides detailed explanation of WfFormat (including required fields), and also a validator script for verifying the compatibility of instances.