Tools and Transformations - Rigorous and Otherwise - for Practical Database Design.

Arnon Rosenthal, David S. Reiner: Tools and Transformations - Rigorous and Otherwise - for Practical Database Design. ACM Trans. Database Syst. 19(2): 167-211(1994)
  author    = {Arnon Rosenthal and
               David S. Reiner},
  title     = {Tools and Transformations - Rigorous and Otherwise - for Practical
               Database Design},
  journal   = {ACM Trans. Database Syst.},
  volume    = {19},
  number    = {2},
  year      = {1994},
  pages     = {167-211},
  ee        = {, db/journals/tods/RosenthalR94.html},
  bibsource = {DBLP,}


We describe the tools and theory of a comprehensive system for database design, and show how they work together to support multiple conceptual and logical design processes. The Database Design and Evaluation Workbench (DDEW) system uses a rigorous, information-content-preserving approach to schema transformation, but combines it with heuristics, guess work, and user interactions. The main contribution lies in illustrating how theory was adapted to a practical system, and how the consistency and power of a design system can be increased by use of theory.

First, we explain why a design system needs multiple data models, and how implementation over a unified underlying model reduces redundancy and inconsistency. Second, we present a core set of small but fundamental algorithms that reaarange a schema without changing its information content. From these reusable components, we easily built larger tools and transformations that were still formally justified. Third, we describe heuristic tools that attempt to improve a schema, often by adding missing information. In these tools, unreliable techniques such as normalization and relationship inference are bolstered by system-guided user interactions to remove errors. We present a rigorous criterion for identifying unnecessary relationships, and discuss an interactive view integrator. Last, we examine the relevance of database theory to building these practically motivated tools and contrast the paradigms of system builders with those of theoreticians.

Copyright © 1994 by the ACM, Inc., used by permission. Permission to make digital or hard copies is granted provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or direct commercial advantage, and that copies show this notice on the first page or initial screen of a display along with the full citation.

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Referenced by

  1. Renée J. Miller, Laura M. Haas, Mauricio A. Hernández: Schema Mapping as Query Discovery. VLDB 2000: 77-88
  2. Lois M. L. Delcambre, Jimmy Langston: Reusing (Shrink Wrap) Schemas by Modifying Concept Schemas. ICDE 1996: 326-333
  3. Martin Steeg: The Conceptual Database Design Optimizer CoDO - Concepts, Implementation, Application. ER 1996: 105-120
  4. Jean-Luc Hainaut, Jean-Marc Hick, Vincent Englebert, Jean Henrard, Didier Roland: Understanding Implementations of IS-A Relations. ER 1996: 42-57
  5. Margita Altus: A Modular Design Strategy for a Flexible Graphical Database Design Environment: An Experimental Study. ER 1996: 146-162
  6. Xiaolei Qian: Correct Schema Transformations. EDBT 1996: 114-128
  7. Margita Altus: User Modelling for Conceptual Database Design Based on an Extended Entity Relationship Model: A Preliminary Study Relationship Model. ADBIS 1996: 46-51
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