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The electronic form of this document may be cited in the following style:
Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, DOE Human Genome Program Contractor-Grantee Workshop IV, 1994.
Abstracts scanned from text submitted for November 1994 DOE Human Genome Program Contractor-Grantee Workshop. Inaccuracies have not been corrected.
Developing a Graphical SQL Editor for the Genomic Database Federation
Computer Science and Engineering
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT 06269-3155
We consider that the genome database federation is a fairly straightforward engineering exercise providing (i) appropriate inter-database reference pointers are well maintained, and (ii) all the participating DBMSs are relational and support appropriate APIs. One potential problem would still persist, however. A user who is not familiar with a third party database in the federation would have difficulty understanding the schema of that database. Consequently, he may not be able to import relevant database schemas among many available ones and may have difficulty forming correct SQL expressions. In a federated database environment, this problem of dealing with unfamiliar third party database schemas becomes much more severe due to the manifold added complexity.
The unfamiliar schema problem is caused by the inherent semantic discrepancies that exist between the way the user perceives real world objects and the way the DBA models them into relational forms. We do not currently know how to build an intelligent query interface that can automatically transform the user's need for data into a structural database query expression. The burden for this conceptual transformation is still on the user. The best, short-term alternative solution would be to develop tools and environment that ease the user's query formulation process.
Our approach is to develop tools and an environment in which users can learn and/or examine the third-party database schema in a relatively short time and can produce a correct SQL expression easily. Specifically, our goal is to allow a user to form a distributed SQL query in a graphical fashion within 5 - 10 minutes' time frame despite his unfamiliarities with third-party database schemas of the federation.
(This work was performed during the author's sabbatical leave at Genome Data Base using computing resources provided by Genome Data Base. This work was supported by National Center for Human Genome Research, National Institute of Health, HG00772-01 and a grant from the University of Connecticut Research Foundation.)