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Object Oriented Model

Nowadays people are moving towards the object oriented approach in many fields. These fields include programming, software engineering, development technologies, implementation of databases, etc. Object oriented concepts have their roots in the object oriented programming languages. Since programming languages were the first to use these concepts in practical sense. When these concepts became widely popular and accepted, other areas started to implement these ideas in them. It became possible due to the fact the object-oriented concepts try to model things as they are. So today it is a common practice to use object-oriented concepts in data modeling. In this session we’ll try to look at the process of applying object oriented concepts to data modeling.

Object Oriented data Modeling Concepts

As discussed earlier Object oriented model has adopted many features that were developed for object oriented programming languages. These include objects, inheritance, polymorphism, and encapsulation.

In object-oriented model main construct is an object. As in E-R model we have entities and in relational model, there are relations similarly we have objects in OO data modeling. So first thing that is done in OO model is to identify the objects for the systems. Examining the problem statement can do it. Other important task is to identify the various operations for these objects. It is easy to relate the objects to the real world. In the section that follows we will try to understand the basic concepts of OO data model.

Objects and object identity:

In this model, everything is modeled as objects. An object can be any physical or abstract thing. It can be a person, place, thing, or a concept. An object can be used to model the overall structure not just a part of it. Also the behavior of the thing that is being modeled is also specified in the object. This feature is called encapsulation. Encapsulation is discussed later in the chapter. Only thing we need to know at this stage is object can store information and behavior in the same entity i.e. an object. Suppose a car is being modeled using this method. Then we can have an object ‘Car’ that has the following information.

Color, Brand, ModelNo, Gears, EngineCylinders, Capacity, No of gates. All this information is sufficient to model any car.

All the objects should be unique. For this purpose, every object is given an identity. Identity is the property of an object, which distinguishes it from all other object. In OO databases, each object has a unique identity. This unique identity is implemented via a unique, system generated object identifier (OID). OID is used internally by the system to identify each object uniquely and to create and manage inter-object references. But its value is not visible to the user.

The main properties of OID :

  1. It is immutable: The value of OID for a particular object should not change. This preserves the identity of the real world object being represented.

  2. It is used only once: Even if an object is removed its OID is not assigned to other objects.

The value of OID doesn’t depend upon any attributes of the object since the values of attributes may change. OID should not be based on the physical address of the object in memory since physical reorganization of the database could change the OID. There should be some mechanism for generating OIDs.

Another feature of OO databases is that objects may have a complex structure. It is due to contain all of the significant information that describes the object. In contrast, in traditional database systems, information about a complex object is often scattered over many relations or records. See fig. 8.12. It leads to loss of direct correspondence between a real-world object and its database representation.

The internal structure of an object includes the specification of instance variables, which hold the values, that defines the internal state of the object.

In OO databases, the values (or states) of complex objects may be constructed from other objects. These objects may be represented as a triple t(i, c, v), where i is a unique object identifier, c is a constructor (that is, an indication of how the object value is constructed), and v is the object value (or state).

There can be several constructors, depending upon or the OO system. The basic constructors are the atom, tuple, set, list, and array constructors. There is also a domain D that contains all basic atomic values that are directly available in the system. These include integers, real numbers, character strings, Boolean, dates, and any other data types that the system supports directly.

An object value v is interpreted on the basis of the value of the constructor c in the triple (i,c,v) that represents the object.

If c = atom, the value is an atomic value from domain D of basic values supported by the system.

If c = set, the value v is a set of objects identifiers{i1,i2,……..,in), which are the identifiers(OIDs) for a set of objects that are typically of the same type.

If c= tuple, the value v is a tuple of the form <a1:i1,…………., an:in), where each aj is an attribute name( sometimes called an instance variable name in OO terminology) and each ij is an object identifier(OID).

If c = list, the value v is an ordered list of object identifiers[i1,i2,……….., in] of the same type. For c = array, the value v, is an array of object identifier.

Consider the following example:

O1 = (i1, atom, Roger)
O2 = (i2, atom, Jane)
O3 = (i3, atom, Goerge)
O4 = (i4, set, {i1,i2,i3})
O5 = (i5, atom, SE)
O6 = (i6, atom, NEPZ)
O7 = (i7,tuple,<DNAME:i5,DNUMBER:i8,LOCATION:i6,ENAME:i3>)
O8 = (i8,atom,1)

Here value of object 4 is constructed from object values of objects O1, O2, and O3. Similarly value of object 7 is constructed from the value of O1, O3, O6, and O8. These constructors can be used to define the data structures for an OO database schema.

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