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Re: organizing tables?

From: Paul Vernon <paul.vernon_at_ukk.ibmm.comm>
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 19:24:13 +0100
Message-ID: <bf6ppj$1i16$1@gazette.almaden.ibm.com>


"Bob Badour" <bbadour_at_golden.net> wrote in message news:3shRa.895$uN3.149846029_at_mantis.golden.net... [snip]
> > By the information principle, (for any given user) nothing can be hidden
> > unless it is completely hidden.
>
> I don't think I agree with your interpretation of the information principle.

I do overload it sometimes, but that is partly because it is *the key* principle.

> I don't recall seeing the "for any given user" part in any other statement
> of the principle.

No indeed, because no-one (to my knowledge & me included) has attempted to find a model of *users* and see how that impacts the relational model.

> Ideally, the dbms would express every constraint on a relvar as a visible
> predicate rephrasing each constraint as necessary to avoid references to
> hidden items; however, the dbms would have to solve provably hard or even
> unsolvable problems to do so. Compromises to avoid provably hard problems
> are pragmatic applications of theory.

If compromises are required in any conceivable application of a theory, than that theory is broken and it needs to add consideration for such compromises and *bring them into the model*.

I made up a term for that idea. I call it 'Logical Practicality'.

> (I miss Jan. I wonder whatever happened to him. I am sure he could rhyme a
> half-dozen relevant references off the top of his head.)

So do I. I'm sure he would respond to a email though.

> > Either 'unseen relations' have zero impact on
> > a database (or 'database view') or the relations are not unseen at all...
>
> Ideally, every user should see an appropriate representation of every
> constraint without violating security; however, this will run us into
> NP-complete and solvability problems.

Yes but that's the problem with narrow theory. Complexity is a problem of the general case. It means you can't guarantee to find the correct answer to every instance of a problem.
A logically practicable theory does need to recognise such problems, but it should also recognise that in specific cases problems are often solvable, or that users don't care it the solution is perfect, just as long as it is good enough.

By rights, auto-route should not be possible because you can guarantee to find the shortest route - that's NP complete. Doesn't stop software finding very short (but maybe not shortest) routes however.

> > > > 2) everything that is not constrained can be updated (i.e. no
hidden
> > > > constraints)
> > >
> > > This is impossible in practice without destroying either integrity or
> > > security.
> >
> > Wrong.
> >
> > If you do not wish to include all the referneced relvars in the user's
view of
> > the database, then you must not allow users the ability to update any
parts of
> > the database that reference the hidden relvars.
>
> I disagree with "must not." This is a design issue. If one does not allow
> users to update relvars that might have "hidden" constraints, the user will
> never encounter any surprising constraints or surprising behaviour.

> However,
> the restriction may prevent users from many desirable or even necessary
> interactions. Under the right circumstances, I would happily give users a
> small chance to surprise themselves.

I just can't see how you can belive in theory, but say it OK to throw it away when things get 'too difficult'.

> > I absolutely reject the idea that a user cannot know a-priori that a given
> > update will 'work' or not.
>
> Until you present a solution for the computationally hard problems you have
> given yourself, I suggest you refrain from imposing them on others.

OK, my 'solution' (assuming there is a problem here) is to throw the problem to the DBMS 'safety system'. This would trap any user request "know a-priori that a given update will 'work' or not" that would (or does) break a safety limit, and report back to the user that "sorry, can't actually calculate that in reasonable time".
Then the user can either redesign the database schema to make the question possible for the DBMS to calculate, or they could upgrade to a faster box, or to another DBMS etc. At last resort they just accept that the update might fail.
So maybe my rule should be restated slightly:

    I absolutely reject the idea that a user cannot classify all their updates into those guaranteed to work and those not guaranteed to work

> > Hidden constraints remove the possibility of giving users such confidence.
>
> Disallowing updates to any relvar that might have a chance of imposing a
> hidden constraint removes the possibility of giving users adequate logical
> independence.

You know or are you just guessing?

[snip]
>
> Given that the hidden audit trail was hidden, constrained and updated, how
> does it fail to provide a counter example to the rules "no hidden updates"
> and "no hidden constraints"?

Simply because these updates and constraints are outside the database that the manager sees as *the* (i.e his) database.

> > The superset
> > has the constraint that deletions from the audit trail cause insertions in
> the
> > audit trail trail. This constraint does not need to be made visible to
> the
> > manager because of the mapping rule between his database view and the
> super
> > view. That mapping rule is basically a set of triggered actions on audit
> > trail.
>
> Whether the mapping rule is a set of triggered actions or a view definition
> seems irrelevant. The hidden audit trail has transition constraints
> referencing the relvars the manager directly updated to cause the hidden
> updates. The arbitrary restrictions you want to impose basically say that
> the designer may not declare the transition constraints to the dbms without
> either revealing the hidden audit trail or making the visible relvars
> read-only.

No it doesn't. Read it again and think about which database subset each user (including 'the' designer) considers *the* (i.e. his) database.

Regards
Paul Vernon
Business Intelligence, IBM Global Services Received on Thu Jul 17 2003 - 13:24:13 CDT

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