Wil van der Aalst (RWTH Aachen University)

Chair of Process and Data Science | RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany


20 Years of Process Mining Research – Accomplishments, Challenges, and Open Problems


In 1999, I started to actively work on process mining, because I noted that the process models used for simulation studies and workflow implementations often turned out to be very different from the actual processes. Therefore, it seemed to be good to start from event data rather than hand-made models. Moreover, the problem of learning end-to-end processes from example behavior seemed very interesting from a scientific point of view.  This keynote for the first international process mining conference (ICPM 2019) reflects on the developments of the field over the last two decades. Process mining has been applied in thousands of organizations, there are dozens for software vendors offering process mining tools, and it has become a standard tool for auditing, management, process improvement, and consultancy. Despite the success and value of process mining, many of the original problems have not been solved satisfactorily from a scientific point of view. Discovered process models tend to be underfitting and there is no consensus on how to measure  this (precision). The filtered directly-follows graph is surprisingly effective, but does not capture concurrency well. Finding the root cause of compliance and performance problems is still not supported well. All of these problems have been raised over 15 years ago, but remain open, despite the remarkable progress in process mining. Given the importance of these challenges, it is great that the ICPM conference series has been established. This keynote will reflect on accomplishments and challenges, and discuss some of the most important open problems in process mining.


Prof.dr.ir. Wil van der Aalst is a full professor at RWTH Aachen University leading the Process and Data Science (PADS) group. He is also part-time affiliated with the Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik (FIT) where he leads FIT’s Process Mining group. His research interests include process mining, Petri nets, business process management, workflow management, process modeling, and process analysis. Wil van der Aalst has published over 200 journal papers, 20 books (as author or editor), 450 refereed conference/workshop publications, and 65 book chapters. Next to serving on the editorial boards of over ten scientific journals, he is also playing an advisory role for several companies, including Fluxicon, Celonis, Processgold, and Bright Cape. Van der Aalst received honorary degrees from the Moscow Higher School of Economics (Prof. h.c.), Tsinghua University, and Hasselt University (Dr. h.c.). He is also an elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities, and the Academy of Europe. In 2017, he was awarded an Alexander-von-Humboldt Professorship.

Wil van der Aalst: 20 years of workflow Petri nets, initiating the biggest success story of Petri nets – PDF