In the area of workflow management, one is confronted with a large number of competing languages and the relations between them (e.g. relative expressiveness) are usually not clear. Moreover, even within the same language it is generally possible to express the same workflow in different ways, a feature known as variability. This paper aims at providing some of the formal groundwork for studying relative expressiveness and variability by defining notions of equivalence capturing different views on how workflow systems operate. Firstly, a notion of observational equivalence in the absence of silent steps is defined and related to classical bisimulation. Secondly, a number of equivalence notions in the presence of silent steps are defined. A distinction is made between the case where silent steps are visible (but not controllable) by the environment and the case where silent steps are not visible, i.e., there is an alternation between system events and environment interactions. It is shown that these notions of equivalence are different and do not coincide with classical notions of bisimulation with silent steps (e.g. weak and branching)
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