Managing complex taxonomic data in an object-oriented database
This thesis addresses the problem of multiple overlapping classifications in object-oriented databases through the example of plant taxonomy. These multiple overlapping classifications are independent simple classifications that share information (nodes and leaves), therefore overlap. Plant taxonomy was chosen as the motivational application domain because taxonomic classifications are especially complex and have changed over long periods of time, therefore overlap in a significant manner. This work extracts basic requirements for the support of multiple overlapping classifications in general, and in the context of plant taxonomy in particular. These requirements form the basis on which a prototype is defmed and built. The prototype, an extended object-oriented database, is extended from an object-oriented model based on ODMG through the provision of a relationship management mechanism. These relationships form the main feature used to build classifications. This emphasis on relationships allows the description of classifications orthogonal to the classified data (for reuse and integration of the mechanism with existing databases and for classification of non co-operating data), and allows an easier and more powerful management of semantic data (both within and without a classification). Additional mechanisms such as integrity constraints are investigated and implemented. Finally, the implementation of the prototype is presented and is evaluated, from the point of view of both usability and expressiveness (using plant taxonomy as an application), and its performance as a database system. This evaluation shows that the prototype meets the needs of taxonomists.