Ontological approach for database integration




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


Database integration is one of the research areas that have gained a lot of attention from researcher. It has the goal of representing the data from different database sources in one unified form. To reach database integration we have to face two obstacles. The first one is the distribution of data, and the second is the heterogeneity. The Web ensures addressing the distribution problem, and for the case of heterogeneity there are many approaches that can be used to solve the database integration problem, such as data warehouse and federated databases. The problem in these two approaches is the lack of semantics. Therefore, our approach exploits the Semantic Web methodology. The hybrid ontology method can be facilitated in solving the database integration problem. In this method two elements are available; the source (database) and the domain ontology, however, the local ontology is missing. In fact, to ensure the success of this method the local ontologies should be produced. Our approach obtains the semantics from the logical model of database to generate local ontology. Then, the validation and the enhancement can be acquired from the semantics obtained from the conceptual model of the database. Now, our approach can be applied in the generation phase and the validation-enrichment phase. In the generation phase in our approach, we utilise the reverse engineering techniques in order to catch the semantics hidden in the SQL language. Then, the approach reproduces the logical model of the database. Finally, our transformation system will be applied to generate an ontology.
In our transformation system, all the concepts of classes, relationships and axioms will be generated. Firstly, the process of class creation contains many rules participating together to produce classes. Our unique rules succeeded in solving problems such as fragmentation and hierarchy. Also, our rules eliminate the superfluous classes of multi-valued attribute relation as well as taking care of neglected cases such as: relationships with additional attributes. The final class creation rule is for generic relation cases. The rules of the relationship between concepts are generated with eliminating the relationships between integrated concepts. Finally, there are many rules that consider the relationship and the attributes constraints which should be transformed to axioms in the ontological model. The formal rules of our approach are domain independent; also, it produces a generic ontology that is not restricted to a specific ontology language. The rules consider the gap between the database model and the ontological model. Therefore, some database constructs would not have an equivalent in the ontological model. The second phase consists of the validation and the enrichment processes. The best way to validate the transformation result is to facilitate the semantics obtained from the conceptual model of the database. In the validation phase, the domain expert captures the missing or the superfluous concepts (classes or relationships). In the enrichment phase, the generalisation method can be applied to classes that share common attributes. Also, the concepts of complex or composite attributes can be represented as classes. We implement the transformation system by a tool called SQL2OWL in order to show the correctness and the functionally of our approach. The evaluation of our system showed the success of our proposed approach. The evaluation goes through many techniques. Firstly, a comparative study is held between the results produced by our approach and the similar approaches. The second evaluation technique is the weighting score system which specify the criteria that affect the transformation system. The final evaluation technique is the score scheme. We consider the quality of the transformation system by applying the compliance measure in order to show the strength of our approach compared to the existing approaches. Finally the measures of success that our approach considered are the system scalability and the completeness.



database transformation, formal method, reverse engineering, semantic web



Research Institute