Introduction to the Petri Nets Standard

This page provides an introduction to the standards group hierarchy, acronyms, and terminology. It is based on information provided by Jonathan Billington and Bernd Baumgarten.

The Standards Group Hierarchy

The standards group relevant for the Petri Nets standardisation effort is called:
where ISO is the International Organisation for Standardisation and IEC is the International Electrotechnical Committee

These two international standards bodies overlap in the area of Information Technology. In the 1980's sometime (86-88?) they decided to amalgamate their technical work in this area and created Joint Technical Committee 1 on Information Technology. Hence

  JTC1: Joint Technical Committee 1 Information Technology.
(ISO just has technical committees (TCs) as does IEC.)

Technical Committees (and JTC1) are organised into a hierarchy of Subcommittees (SCs) with specific scope (terms of reference). JTC1 has many subcommittees, including SC7 on Software Engineering.

  SC7: Subcommittee 7 Software Engineering
To carry out the technical work, each subcommittee is divided into a set of Working Groups (WGs). Subcommittee 7 has had at sometime or other 12 WGs. Currently only WGs 2,4,6,7,8,9,10,11 and 12 are active. The Petri net standardisation work is being carried out in WG11.
  WG11: Working Group 11 Software Engineering Data Description and Representation.
Subcommittees organise their work into a set of projects, with a subset of projects being allocated to each working group. Working Group 11 currently has 2 projects: 7.28 Software Engineering Data Description and Interchange; and 7.19 Diagrams for Software Engineering. It is at WG11 meetings where the Petri Nets standard is discussed, and is therefore of interest for technical people. (SC7 and JTC1 meetings deal with organisational and political issues and are mostly avoided by technical people.)

Project 7.28 is currently standardising CDIF: CASE Data Interchange Format which has been submitted by the EIA: Electronics Industry Association (USA). (This can provide a format for the exchange of Petri nets according to their proponents.) Thus this project is mainly concerned with Data Interchange - there are a large number of CDIF standards being progressed through ISO at the moment.

Project 7.19 is concerned much more with techniques. This is where a lot of effort was expended in convincing WG11 that there should be a Petri net standard and that the right place for it was 7.19. A ballot was held of all SC7 members during the second half of 1995 to subdivide project 7.19 into 7.19.3 (as 7.19.1 and 7.19.2 were already in use) to start work on Petri net techniques. The justification, scope, programme of work etc was circulated with the Ballot (see the document Proposal for the Subdivision of Project 7.19 for a Petri Net Standard).

National Bodies

The members of ISO (and IEC) are the National Standards Organisations in each country eg ANSI in the USA, British Standards Institute (BSI) in the UK, DIN in Germany. These are called National Bodies (NB). It is the NBs that vote on proposals and various stages of the standards process. The NBs have their own committee structures, which often mirror the ISO structure. The NB committee on Software Engineering will provide advice to a higher level committee, that mirrors JTC1. A representative of this committee should attend the JTC1 Committee meeting that will be held in Paris 10-13 December 96. It is at this meeting that a vote will be taken on whether projects listed for cancellation in JTC1 N4302 should be cancelled. (Output documents produced by each level of committee produces are prefixed by the committee initials and numbered sequentially.) For a complete list of national standards bodies see the WWW page called Member Bodies.

JTC1 N4302 was generated by an Adhoc Group on Re-engineering, that is to report to JTC1 at the December meeting. SC7 input document SC7 N1585 to the review. SC7 Programme of Work review in N1585 was based on inputs from the following countries only:

  Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, USA and UK
Since the SC7 Membership is much wider (28 Members), the SC7 Secretary, Francois Coallier (Canada) has requested National Member bodies (NBs) who did not contribute to this review to do so before 28 November 1996.

That review stated that 3 NBs were actively participating in the Petri net work, there was one that was interested, and 3 that had limited or no interest. One of the criteria for cancellation (the main one according to Billington), is that there must be at least 5 active NBs for the standards work. The facts are that the active countries so far have been:

  Germany, USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and Denmark.
It is important that as many National Bodies as possible get activated. Please read How You Can Help on the main page.

Some Remarks on Standardisation Work

On the national scale, one is usually expected to be officially dispatched by one's company/organisation. Or to be invited by a national standardisation committee or WG as an advising expert (usually unpaid). On the international scale you have to be dispatched by your national standardisation organisation. Unlike scientific workshops, it is NOT advisable to visit standardisation meetings merely spontaneously, on your private initiative.

Do not necessarily expect lots of interesting technical discussions on Petri Nets in standardisation meetings, either. There are many participants not the least bit interested in Petri Nets (as, maybe, you are vice versa in their favourite topics). Petri Nets are often a single topic among many other ones. Try to initiate parallel sessions on technical topics, one of them on Petri Nets.

It is advisable to have technical discussions apart, before going into national meetings. In the latter, try to produce national contributions. Of course, as long as your national standards organisation accepts you, and no one else in your country contributes or attends meetings, you are quite on your own.

Develop patience. Get to know the rules of the game.

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