Individuals, Identities, Identification.
Identity is an intrinsic quality of individuals that must not be confused with the features supporting it.
As far as business is concerned, representations must deal with individuals, aka instances, aka occurrences. Hence, systems supporting business processes must provide identification mechanisms targeting the processed symbolic representations as well as the agents processing them. Those mechanisms constitute a basic component of system functional architecture.
As already noted, models are meant to describe how business contexts are mapped into symbolic representations. More precisely, the functional architecture specifies the persistency and execution units that will be implemented as system components.
Persistent vs Transient Identities
From a functional perspective, three identification mechanisms have to be considered depending on target:
- Persistency units representing active (e.g owner) or passive (e.g chariot) objects must be kept consistent independently of business processes targeting them (e.g repair). As an example, national authorities often define surrogates to identify their citizens.
- Representations of execution units (e.g repair) have only to be maintained while the processes who created them are running.
- System users may have to be identified as agents during interactions and role authorizations may have to be checked both execution as well as persistency units.
Individuals and Identification
Whatever the semantics, it identification mechanisms can be characterized by the nature of targeted individuals:
- Primary individuals can be directly identified and may exist in any number.
- Secondary (aka dependent) individuals can also be directly identified but cannot stand on their own.
- Components can only be identified through their owner.
- Singletons (or n-tons) are primary individuals with direct and permanent access.
- Lumped elements have no discrete identities.
- Derived elements are identified by their source and time-stamp.