Toward an ontology-driven blockchain design for supply-chain provenance

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Journal Article

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Intelligent Systems in Accounting, Finance and Management




Henry M. Kim
Marek Laskowski

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An interesting research problem in our age of Big Data is that of determining provenance. Granular evaluation of provenance of physical goods (e.g., tracking ingredients of a pharmaceutical or demonstrating authenticity of luxury goods) has often not been possible with today's items that are produced and transported in complex, interorganizational, often internationally spanning supply chains. Recent adoptions of the Internet of Things and blockchain technologies give promise at better supply-chain provenance. We are particularly interested in the blockchain, as many favored use cases of blockchain are for provenance tracking. We are also interested in applying ontologies, as there has been some work done on knowledge provenance, traceability, and food provenance using ontologies. In this paper, we make a case for why ontologies can contribute to blockchain design. To support this case, we analyze a traceability ontology and translate some of its representations to smart contracts that execute a provenance trace and enforce traceability constraints on the Ethereum blockchain platform.