On the parameterized complexity of the workflow satisfiability problem

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A workflow specification defines a set of steps and the order in which those steps must be executed. Security requirements may impose constraints on which groups of users are permitted to perform subsets of those steps. A workflow specification is said to be satisfiable if there exists an assignment of users to workflow steps that satisfies all the constraints. An algorithm for determining whether such an assignment exists is important, both as a static analysis tool for workflow specifications, and for the construction of run-time reference monitors for workflow management systems. Finding such an assignment is a hard problem in general, but work by Wang and Li in 2010 using the theory of parameterized complexity suggests that efficient algorithms exist under reasonable assumptions about workflow specifications. In this paper, we improve the complexity bounds for the workflow satisfiability problem. We also generalize and extend the types of constraints that may be defined in a workflow specification and prove that the satisfiability problem remains fixed-parameter tractable for such constraints.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCCS '12 Proceedings of the 2012 ACM conference on Computer and communications security
Place of PublicationNew York
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-1651-4
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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