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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A property-based approach to integrating information from multiple sources Zhuang, Haohua (Howard)

Abstract

The challenge of integrating information from multiple data sources automatically, via computers, has long been of great interest in the area of Databases and Information Systems. It has become more important with the growth of the Internet and proliferation of Semi-Structured information sources. The major obstacle to integrating information from multiple sources lies in reconciling the meaning of data, which is known as Semantic Reconciliation or Semantic Integration. In the design of databases and information systems, the meaning of data that can be stored is usually described by a conceptual model. Thus, one needs to express data or transform data into a comprehensive and uniform conceptual model before approaching the issue of automatic (computerbased) integration. This thesis proposes a conceptual model - the property-based model - as the basis for semantic data integration. The main premise underlying the model is that to identify the meaning of data requires identifying what the data represents in the world. The branch of philosophy dealing with what exists in the world is Ontology; hence, the proposed model is based on ontological foundations. Specifically, it is based on Bunge's ontology as adapted to information systems by Wand and Weber, and on a method for semantic reconciliation proposed by Parsons and Wand. The thesis begins with an overview of research in the field of Information Integration. It discusses the most common type of conceptual models - the Class-Based Model, which includes the Entity- Relationship Model and Object-Oriented Models, and mentions some problems with this type of models. Then the thesis presents the property-based model. Based on the Property-Based model, the thesis proposes and develops a Property-Based Approach to integrating information from multiple sources. The approach uses two main tools, the Property-Precedence Schema (PPS) and the Instance Function (IF). After discussing briefly some practical issues, the thesis introduces a general integration procedure and demonstrates it on a case study to illustrate the usability of the approach.

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