The University of Southampton

Provenance: improving authenticity of computer-generated information

Published: 17 January 2005

There is currently no standard means of proving the source of computer-generated information. There is therefore no way of auditing the information or tracing how a particular result was achieved. However, a new EU-wide project will provide a means of tracing the origins of computer-generated information, as well as creating a standard for the industry. The EU Provenance Project, funded by the Sixth Framework Programme, borrows its name from the trusted, documented history of works of art, and aims to extend this concept to the computer science industry. According to Professor Luc Moreau of the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton, the Provenance project aims to provide mechanisms and standard industry software which will allow information generated and managed within a grid infrastructure to be proven and trusted. This information will be documented in such a way that it can be inspected and validated by authorised users who can also ensure that it has not been tampered with during the process. 'This will be a very important service for organizations in the aerospace and organ transplant industries, in particular, said Professor Moreau. 'It will also have applications in the travel industry and could be very useful in tracing the source of spam.' Partners in the Provenance team are: School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton; IBM UK Ltd; Cardiff University (Welsh eScience Centre); Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft - und Raumfahrt s.V, Universitat Politechica de Catalunya; and Computer and Automation Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

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