A layered view model for XML with conceptual and logical extensions, and its applications

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EXtensible Markup Language (XML) is becoming the dominant standard for storing, describing and interchanging data among various Enterprises Information Systems (EIS), web repositories and databases. With this increasing reliance on such self-describing, schema-based, semi-structured data language XML, there exists a need to model, design, and manipulate XML and associated semantics at a higher level of abstraction than at the instance level. However, existing OO conceptual modelling languages provide insufficient modelling constructs for utilizing XML structures, descriptions and constraints, and XML and associated schema languages lack the ability to provide higher levels of abstraction, such as conceptual models that are easily understood by humans. To this end, it is interesting to investigate conceptual and schema formalisms as a means of providing higher level semantics in the context of XML-related data modelling. In particular we note that there is a strong need to model views of XML repositories at the conceptual level. This is in contrast to the situation for views for the relational model which are generally defined at the implementation level. In this research, we use XML view and introduce the Layered View Model (LVM, for short), a declarative conceptual framework for specifying and defining views at a higher level of abstraction. The views in the LVM are specified using explicit conceptual, logical and instance level semantics and provide declarative transformation between these levels of abstraction. For such a task, an elaborated and enhanced OO based modelling and transformation methodology is employed. The LVM framework leads to a number of interesting problems that are studied in this research. First we address the issue of conceptualizing the notion of views: the clear separation of conceptual concerns from the implementation and data language concerns. Here, the LVM views are considered as first-class citizens of the conceptual model. Second we provide formal semantics and definitions to enforce representation, specification and definition of such views at the highest level of abstraction, the conceptual level. Third we address the issue of modelling and transformation of LVM views to the required level of abstraction, namely to the schema and instance levels. Finally, we apply LVM to real-world data modelling scenarios to develop other architectural frameworks in the domains such as dimensional XML data modelling, ontology views in the Semantic Web paradigm and modelling user-centred websites and web portals.
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