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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Incorporating semantic integrity constraints in a database schema Yang, Heng-li


A database schema should consist of structures and semantic integrity constraints. Se mantic integrity constraints (SICs) are invariant restrictions on the static states of the stored data and the state transitions caused by the primitive operations: insertion, dele tion, or update. Traditionally, database design has been carried out on an ad hoc basis and focuses on structure and efficiency. Although the E-R model is the popular concep tual modelling tool, it contains few inherent SICs. Also, although the relational database model is the popular logical data model, a relational database in fourth or fifth normal form may still represent little of the data semantics. Most integrity checking is distributed to the application programs or transactions. This approach to enforcing integrity via the application software causes a number of problems. Recently, a number of systems have been developed for assisting the database design process. However, only a few of those systems try to help a database designer incorporate SICs in a database schema. Furthermore, current SIC representation languages in the literature cannot be used to represent precisely the necessary features for specifying declarative and operational semantics of a SIC, and no modelling tool is available to incorporate SICs. This research solves the above problems by presenting two models and one subsystem. The E-R-SIC model is a comprehensive modelling tool for helping a database designer in corporate SICs in a database schema. It is application domain-independent and suitable for implementation as part of an automated database design system. The SIC Repre sentation model is used to represent precisely these SICs. The SIC elicitation subsystem would verify these general SICs to a certain extent, decompose them into sub-SICs if necessary, and transform them into corresponding ones in the relational model. A database designer using these two modelling tools can describe more data semantics than with the widely used relational model. The proposed SIC elicitation subsystem can provide more modelling assistance for him (her) than current automated database design systems.

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