Relational languages for metadata integration

Wyss, CM; Robertson, EL
Wyss, C
Robertson, E
ACM Transactions on Database Systems (TODS)
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Wyss2005Relationallanguagesfor.pdf676.21 KB

In this article, we develop a relational algebra for metadata integration, Federated Interoperable Relational Algebra (FIRA). FIRA has many desirable properties such as compositionality, closure, a deterministic semantics, a modest complexity, support for nested queries, a subalgebra equivalent to canonical Relational Algebra (RA), and robustness under certain classes of schema evolution. Beyond this, FIRA queries are capable of producing fully dynamic output schemas, where the number of relations and/or the number of columns in relations of the output varies dynamically with the input instance. Among existing query languages for relational metadata integration, only FIRA provides generalized dynamic output schemas, where the values in any (fixed) number of input columns can determine output schemas.Further contributions of this article include development of an extended relational model for metadata integration, the Federated Relational Data Model, which is strictly downward compatible with the relational model. Additionally, we define the notion of Transformational Completeness for relational query languages and postulate FIRA as a canonical transformationally complete language. We also give a declarative, SQL-like query language that is equivalent to FIRA, called Federated Interoperable Structured Query Language (FISQL).While our main contributions are conceptual, the federated model, FISQL/FIRA, and the notion of transformational completeness nevertheless have important applications to data integration and OLAP. In addition to summarizing these applications, we illustrate the use of FIRA to optimize FISQL queries using rule-based transformations that directly parallel their canonical relational counterparts. We conclude the article with an extended discussion of related work as well as an indication of current and future work on FISQL/FIRA.