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Maintaining Database Consistency in the Presence of Schema Evolution: An Evolutionary Approach based on Versions of Schema Open Access


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Liu, Ling
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database consistency
change management
engineering and design databases
program compatibility
softwar maintenance
schema evolution
data models
version control
schema versioning
Type of item
Technical report TR96-31. With rapid advances in computer network technology and the increasing interest in global information sharing, grows the need for facilities that can effectively maintain the database consistency and program compatibility as the schema evolves. In this paper, we present a general framework based on versions of schema for supporting seamless schema evolution in large-scale object-oriented software systems. We argue that the effectiveness of using the schema version model to materialize schema evolution relies not only on the management of version derivation of schema, but also on the ability to maintain consistency of the database instances with the new schema versions, and the flexibility of sharing instance access scopes among versions of schema. Semnatics of schema versioning is studied with the objective to facilitate instance adaptation and program compatibility in the presence of schema updates. A number of options for sharing of instance access scopes among versions of a schema is developed. Applications may derive versions of schema upon requests for schema updates, and define the instance access scope for each new version of schema by either creating their own instance access scope or inheriting the instance access scope of its ancestor schema versions in terms of a selection of options. The significance of our approach is the abilities for maintaining database consistency, in the presence of schema modification, without irreversibly changing the objects that exist before the schema modification, and the facilities that allow multi-users and applications to create and manipulate different collections of objects under different versions of schema. As a consequence, many organizational investments of the existing customer set, such as application design and development, can remain operationsal in the presence of schema changes.
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