What's Next in Database
Keith Jeffery, CLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
This short paper attempts to encapsulate the thinking that has been going on in the ERCIM Database Research Group over the last 8 years. Of course, the members of the group are internationally known researchers and participants in communities covering their own special areas of interest, and so the group acts as a focus integrating many aspects of database (or more generally information intensive systems).
The predominant technology today is relational. Founded on theoretical work by Ted Codd and others in the late sixties, the technology took 15 years to mature to market acceptability. However, much data processing still uses earlier hierarchic and network-structured (CODASYL) database systems and even file systems. Relational databases have several advantages:
- they are founded on solid theoretical principles
- they utilise predicate queries as opposed to navigational (what I want, not how to get it)
- there is a standard query language so interoperation is assisted;
- they are easy to use and a solid basis for advanced application (business or technical) systems
The major factors requiring a move forward from a relational basis are:
Expressivity, Representativity, Distribution, Interoperability, and in a wider context (dealt with under 'Current Hot Topics' below): WWW-database integration, Metadata, Data Warehousing and Data Mining.