Posts Tagged ‘data manipulation

Extensions of Relational and Object oriented Database Systems

In this approach a relational or object-oriented database system is extended to support SGML/XML data management. The proposed SGML extensions included, for example, a system where SGML files were mapped to the O2 database management system, and the extension of operators of SQL to accommodate structured text. All current commercial database systems provide some XML support. Examples of commercial systems are Oracle’s XML SQL Utility and IBM’s DB2 XML Extender. For the sake of discussion, we consider IBM’s DB2 XML Extender as representative of the many systems following this approach.

Data model: When conventional database systems are used for XML, data structuring is systematic and explicitly defined by a database schema. The data model of the original system is typically extended to encompass XML data, but the extensions define simplified tree models rather than rich XML documents.The XML extensions are intended primarily to support the management of enterprise data, wrapped as elements and attributes in an XML document. A problem in using the systems is the need for parallel understanding of two different kinds of data models.

Data definition: The extended systems require explicit definition of transformation of a DTD to the internal structures. XML elements are typically mapped to objects in object-oriented systems, but relational systems require more elaborate transformations to represent hierarchic and ordered structures in unordered tables. In the DB2 XML Extender the whole document can be stored either externally as a file or as a whole in a column of a table. Elements and attributes can also be stored separately inside tables, which can be accessed independently or used for selecting whole documents (as if the side tables were indexes). DTDs, which are stored in a special table, can be associated with XML documents and used to validate them.

Data manipulation: In relational extensions, whole documents and DTDs that are stored in tables can be accessed and manipulated through the SQL database language. As explained above, specific elements of XML data can be extracted when documents are loaded, maintained separately, and accessed directly through SQL. Support for accessing elements that have not been extracted as part of document loading is provided through limited XPath queries, and the DB2 XML Extender can be used together with DB2 UDB Text for full-text search. DB2 also provides document assembly via a function call that can be embedded in an SQL query.

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Analysis of the index data model from a databases perspective

The logical representation of indexes is an abstraction for their actual physical implementation(e.g. inverted indexes, suffix trees, suffix arrays or signature files). This abstraction resembles the data independence principle exploited by databases and, by further investigation, it appears clear how databases and search engine indexes have some similarities in the nature of their data structures: in the relational model we refer to a table as a collection of rows having a uniform structure and intended meaning; a table is composed by a set of columns, called attributes, having values taken from a set of domains (like integers, string or boolean values). Likewise, in the index data model, we refer to an index as a collection of documents of a given (possibly generic) type having uniform structure and intended meaning where a document is composed of a (possibly unitary) set of fields having values also belonging to different domains (string, date, integer etc).

Differently from the databases, though, search engine indexes do not have functional dependencies nor inclusion dependencies defined for their fields, except for an implied key dependency used to uniquely identify documents into an index. Moreover, it is not possible to define join dependencies between fields belonging to different indexes. Another difference enlarging the gap between the database data model and the index data model is the lack of standard data definition and data manipulation languages. For example both in literature and in industry there is no standard query language convention (such as SQL for databases) for search engines; this heterogeneity is mainly due to a high dependency of the adopted query convention to the structure and to the nature of the items in the indexed collection.

In its simplest form, for a collection of items with textual representation, a query is composed of keywords and the items retrieved contain these keywords. An extension of this simple querying mechanism is the case of a collection of structured text documents, where the use of index fields allows users to search not only in the whole document but also in its specific attributes. From a database model perspective, though, just selection and projection operators are available: users can specify keyword-based queries over fields belonging to the document structure and, possibly, only a subset of all the fields in the document can be shown as result.

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Native SGML/XML Systems

Native SGML/XML systems are designed especially for the management of SGML/XML data. The systems should include capabilities to define, create, store, validate, manipulate, publish,and retrieve SGML/XML documents and their parts. Some of the native systems, such as Astoria and Information Manager, are comprehensive document management systems with front-ends for users to work with documents. Some others, such as SIM and Tamino, are software packages intended for building applications for the management of SGML/XML data. A few systems, especially those that support semi-structured data,such as Lore, XYZFind, and dbXML, provide native support for tree-structured data but are limited in their support of rich XML documents because they do not rely extensively on DTDs or other document type definitions.

The data model: There is no single well-defined data model for XML data. The lack of a well-defined universal conceptual model causes problems in the native systems: for example, the underlying model for XML data is not explicitly defined in Astoria or Tamino, and system-specific notions and models have been invented in SIM. Many of the systems consist of packages of tools that do not share a common data model and may be limited in kind of XML documents they are able to store and manipulate. Unfortunately, because the systems do not highlight the details of the data model, such inconsistencies and constraints are often difficult to detect.

Data definition: The capability to define document types is an important characteristic of XML, and we consider the document type definition capability an essential feature in systems of this category. This aspect severely reduces the utility of semi-structured approaches for managing persistent XML resources. The systems originally developed for SGML are able to use DTDs directly as the document type definition with no translation to some other form of schema. Additional definitions may be needed, however,to support flexible manipulation and efficient implementation. In Astoria an important extension is provided by components, which form the data unit for many operations. For example, access rights are granted at the component level, components can have variants and versions, and simultaneous update to a document by several users is controlled at the component level.

Data manipulation: The lack of a standardized XML query language has led to various system-specific query languages. In addition, the simplified data models restrict query capabilities. For example, since Tamino does not store information about attribute types, queries utilizing IDs and IDREFs are impossible. The response to a Tamino query is an XML document containing the query result as tagged text, plus metadata related to the query (e.g.date and time). Thus the query language cannot be applied directly to query results unless a Tamino schema defines them as part of the database. In content management systems such as Astoria and Information Manager, parts of documents can be updated by structure editors integrated with the systems. In both of them style sheets can be associated with documents in their associated editors, and transformations can be defined by means of style sheets. Both of the systems also offer some capabilities for document assembly. In Tamino, database update is applied at the document level. The data storage mechanism for XML data(called X-Machine) has an associated programming language that includes commands for inserting and deleting documents. XSL is used to transform XML documents to HTML for Web publishing,but there is no additional support for defining transformations.

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