Mc.Gill . UnJvermty School of Computer Science Burnside Hall (514) 392-8275 Extending the Relational Algebra to Capture Less Meaning T. H. Merrett McGill University Montreal We argue that systems of operations on data are most effective when they are formalisms, in which semantic considerations are unimportant until the formalism is applied to some specific application. In this way, database processing can join the ranks of successful mathematical abstractions. Differential equations, for instance, can be applied to situations ranging from orbit calculations to the quantum mechanics of the atom. The semantics of each application is unique to that application, but the formalism of differential equations is common. The power of the formalism lies in its abstraction from issues of meaning. This paper explores extensions to the relational algebra, made with practicality in mind, but under the constraint of generality, i.e., freedom from being limited to particular interpretations. By going to the foundations of the relational model in m a t h e m a t i c a l set theory we can generalize the now classical operations of projection, restriction, natural join and division to two useful families of binary operations and a flexible unary operator w h
ACM SIGMOD Record – Association for Computing Machinery
Published: Nov 1, 1984
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