Object-oriented and relational databases: a comparative study of concepts and applications

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Virginia Tech

The entity-relationship and extended-entity-relationship models are outlined. The concepts are used to introduce the object-oriented and relational models, operations, implementation, and application domains.

Extensions of relational databases are examined to uncover object-oriented techniques utilized. The object-oriented techniques include: addition of entity identifiers, addition of new types, expansion of the data manipulation and definition languages. Differences between object-oriented and relational databases are discussed. They include: schema design, encapsulation and instantiation, degree of use, addition of new types, integrity and security, version management, and distributed processing.

Computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided software engineering (CASE), office information systems (OIS), and universities administrative systems (UAS) are selected for a comparative analysis of relational and object-oriented databases. A threshold model consisting of the following criteria is designed: schema evolution, encapsulation, ease of use and implementation, addition of new types, security and integrity, importance of versions, distribution, and use of object identifiers.

The relational and object-oriented databases used in the analysis are defined depicting their features as they relate to the criteria under analysis. The requirements for CAD, CASE, OIS, and UAS categories are defined as well.

Finally, the threshold model is used to determine the suitability of the two database models for each application category. It is then concluded that object-oriented databases fulfill the requirements of CAD, CASE, and OIS applications whereas the relational database fall unacceptably short. Object-oriented databases are judged marginally advantageous for the UAS application.

A description of the analysis and the conclusion is included.