Australian Response to JTC1 N4302 Proposed
Cancellation of Project 7.19.3 Petri nets


JTC1 N4302 proposes 8 pages of projects to be cancelled. One of these projects is 7.19.3 Petri net. Australia strongly opposes the cancellation of this project for the following reasons.

Active Support of National Bodies

We understand that the proposed cancellation of Project 7.19.3 was based on document SC7 N1585. Only 7 National Bodies (NBs) had managed to input to N1585. N1585 states that 3 NBs (out of 7) were actively participating in the Petri net work and one expressed interested. These NBs did not include: Australia, Germany and Denmark, which have now indicated to the SC7 secretariat that they are actively involved in the standard. This should be reflected in the new version of SC7 N1585 being prepared by the SC7 secretary.

The number of active participants in Project 7.19.3 is 6: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, USA. The UK has also contributed significantly at the Aomori WG11 meeting and support has been indicated by UK experts. It is possible that the UK may become a participating member. Thus there are more than the required 5 NBs.

12 countries supported the subdivision in the ballot (same justification as for NWI was circulated): AUSTRALIA, DENMARK, GERMANY*, ISRAEL, ITALY, JAPAN*, NORWAY, NETHERLANDS, SWEDEN, UK*, UKRAINE.

Only one country, USA was against, but the US comments acknowledged the need for the standard. Australia believes that the US now supports the project as they are now actively contributing to its success with good input at the Ottawa WG11 meeting in October 1996 (contributions were from Prof Tad Murata and Woody Pidcock (Boeing)).

France abstained, but stated in its comments in the ballot that it was interested in the area. I have now received email that France will support the project at the JTC1 meeting in December 96.

Project Technology (modern/current/new)

The work on Petri nets has matured to the stage where it is being picked up by industry. Many Petri net based tools have been developed, several of these to a commercial state. These are being used by hundreds organisations around the world. It is thus timely for a standard. See subdivision proposal, attached, for more detail.

Market Demand

There is significant market demand for a Petri net standard. For example, some Telecommunications companies have stated that they will not use Petri nets, despite there technical advantages, until there is an International Standard. This is because there are many variations to high-level nets, and there are many tools each of which have difficulty in interoperating. The development of a standard will facilitate the understanding of specifications written in a standard high-level net language, with a well defined meaning. This will also facilitate the development of tools. The development of a standard transfer syntax will allow current tools to interoperate if they conform to the standard's semantics. There is significant demand for exchanging specifications within and between organisations, and this is growing as uptake in industry of the technique continues. Petri nets are currently used in many industrial and government organisations all over the world and this is increasing every year. For example, just one high-level net computer tool, Design/CPN, which was first available in the late 1980's is now used by 200 organisations in 30 different countries, including 50 commercial companies (see:

Proof of Functionality

Proof of functionality is considerable. There is a Web Page at which provides information about Petri nets and how they have been used. A significant number of computer tools have been developed and are being used commercially as indicated above. Another example is the use of two different Petri net tools by Boeing Corporation and their need for them to interoperate.

The Ottawa meeting also demonstrated that the techniques used to define the Petri net standard, may well be of use in the wider context, particularly to enhance the CDIF Meta meta model.


There are currently 6 countries actively supporting the work of Project 7.19.3. There is strong demand for a standard from many sectors from Telecommunications to Defence and Aerospace. The technology is up to date and has been proved. The project is progressing rapidly, and currently is meeting its ambitious schedule.

There is absolutely no reason for JTC1 to set about cancelling this project. To do so would be an abbrogation of its responsibility to the nations of the world.

Further, given that there has already been a significant process of justification in the ballot which was completed this year, JTC1's action has removed precious resources from developing the standard and wasted them on a needless rejustification. JTC1 needs to be much more careful in the way it proceeds with such reviews. It should require these reviews to be done by the SCs in charge of the work. It is indicative of the lack of resources that only 7 out of 28 countries managed to be aware that the review was in progress in SC7. It is hard enough to get worthwhile projects started and completed without having to rejustify the work immediately after it has been approved! Australia therefore requests that the process of review be revised to ensure adequate time for consultation, and that projects that have been approved within two years of the commencement of the review be exempted, so that they have a chance to do the technical work required.

Jonathan Billington,
Project 7.19.3 Editor, Australia.

29th November 1996.