Databases have come a long way since their inception in the early 1950s where standalone systems, were used to communicate with data in stored memory. Overtime relational databases, the fourth generation of database systems, were introduced to meet the efficiency and conveniences of storing data. However, today, these relational models are not able to handle the modern day requirements which are both complex and extensive. Object-oriented databases (OODs) presently seem like the most probable substitute to meet these constraints. Broadly, through the features of OODs such as user-defined objects and data types, database models are designed to reflect the immediate demands of users and their fields.
Similar to object-oriented programming, OODs define complex data objects having attributes, derived values and inheritance features among many others elements (Heintz, 1992). The history of OODs further highlights this common object-oriented architecture as it was initially introduced to fit the object-oriented paradigm in the early 1980s. Its original proposal, which still stands today, saw everything structured using objects including the data itself. Skip to today, and this technology proves its worth as its commonly used in complex systems that require high levels of computing power starting with computer aided manufacturing (CAD) and software engineering. Additionally, its efficiency in knowledge-based systems and multimedia operations is undisputed an outcome that often requires advanced hardware requirements which are highlighted in this paper. In all, OODs may have started as necessity items but have now transformed into the essential components of modern-day database management systems.
Modes/Ways of Operations
OODB Model: Conventional database management systems (DBMSs) are made up of simple structures and are characterized by the simultaneous execution of transactions and queries. This model often using relational attributes is what is replaced by object-oriented database systems (OODBs) which have richer concepts revolving around identities, classes, inheritance and late binding. The object-oriented data model (OODM) visualizes any problem through the modeling concept of objects. In this case, the object is defined as an element that has both state and behavior. Additionally, the preexisting state of the said object is determined by the value of its attributes (properties). These attributes are then outlined using both primitive and no primitive values like those found in integers or strings (Bagui, 2003). Primarily, through its definition, an object can subsequently be described by other objects, recursively building a complex system. As such, the real behavior of the object is stipulated by the approaches that work on the state of the system.
Following this construct, each object in OODM is then described by a unique system-defined identifier (OID). Through this item, objects with the same behaviors and characteristics are assembled to form classes. Therefore, in its existence, an object can be a single instance of one class system or multiple classes. Subsequently, the built classes are then consolidated into class orders (hierarchies) where subclasses inherit the attributes and approaches of the superclasses (Bagui, 2003). However, a subclass can have its properties and even methods, a common outcome in OODM. In other instances, a subclass can also borrow from multiple superclasses in what is known as multiple inheritances. Eventually, this structure builds on top of each other to produce a complex execution model that is the building block of OODM.
Queries are an essential component of database systems as they provide the means to retrieve data by just specifying simple conditions. Query languages are the only methods used to access data in relational database management systems (RDBMSs). However, OODBMSs improve on this functionality by having several modalities for data access. The first access method is called navigational and is centered on the object identifiers as well as the collection of hierarchies on top of which objects are defined. Generally, with a specific OID, the OODM can directly access an object and efficiently navigate through a cluster of classes (objects as well) based on the components of these elements (Bertino & Guerrini, 2008). Associative method is then the second mode of access and is grounded on query languages which closely resemble the SQL format.
Both of these modalities operate in a complementary mode where queries (associative) are run to select objects which are then accessed or manipulated by programs through the navigation process. In OODM, navigational access is an essential concept as compared to traditional models which find the process inefficient due to their associated join operations. It is because of this outcome that most of these conventional representations, such as relational systems, use associative access as they efficiently support declarative queries. As such, the traditional model can only use associative access methods as they reduce their development time and extends their success, a benefit that is built on top of the OO structure in database systems.
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