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A Formalisation of Semantic Schema Integration

Peter McBrien, Alexandra Poulovassilis

Journal Article
Information Systems
Volume 23
Issue 5
July, 1998
Elsevier Science Ltd.
ISSN 0306-4379

Several methodologies for the semantic integration of databases have been proposed in the literature. These often use a variant of the Entity-Relationship (ER) model as the common data model. To aid the schema conforming, merging and restructuring phases of the semantic integration process, various transformations have been defined that map between ER representations which are in some sense equivalent. Our work aims to formalise the notion of schema equivalence and to provide a formal underpinning for the schema integration process.

We show how transformational, mapping and behavioural schema equivalence are all variants of a more general definition of schema equivalence. We propose a semantically sound set of primitive transformations and show how they can be used to express the transformations commonly used during the schema integration process and to define new transformations. We differentiate between transformations which apply to any instance of a schema and those which require knowledge-based reasoning since they apply only for certain instances; this distinction could serve to enhance the performance of transformation tools since it identifies which transformations must be verified by inspection of the schema extension; it also serves to identify when intelligent reasoning is required during the schema integration process.

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