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We argue that essential facets of Web services, and especially those useful to understand their interaction, can be described using process-algebraic notations. Web service description and execution languages such as BPEL are essentially process description languages; they are based on primitives for behaviour description and message exchange which can also be found in more abstract process algebras. One legitimate question is therefore whether the formal approach and the sophisticated tools introduced for process algebra can be used to improve the effectiveness and the reliability of Web service development. Our investigations suggest a positive answer, and we claim that process algebras provide a very complete and satisfactory assistance to the whole process of Web service development. We show on a case study that readily available tools based on process algebra are effective at verifying that Web services conform to their requirements and respect properties. We advocate their use both at the design stage and for reverse engineering issues. More prospectively, we discuss how they can be helpful to tackle choreography issues.
Date of Conference: 6-9 July 2004