An Analysis of Semantic Overload in Database Access Systems Using Multi-table Query Formulation

An Analysis of Semantic Overload in Database Access Systems Using Multi-table Query Formulation

Sangkyu Rho (Seoul National University, Korea) and Salvatore T. March (University of Minnesota, USA)
Copyright: © 1997 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/jdm.1997040101
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Abstract

Theory suggests that semantic overload in database representations and query languages may be a significant contributing factor to difficulties in end-user access to corporate databases. With respect to join queries, two aspects of SQL-based relational database management systems are overloaded: (1) foreign key columns are overloaded to represent both attributes and relationships and (2) the WHERE clause in SQL is overloaded to include both selection criteria and join criteria. We experimentally test the semantic overload theory by comparing end user performance using data access systems (DASs) that address these aspects individually and in combination. Eliminating the overload in foreign key columns by adding an explicit relationship construct to the standard tabular relational database representation significantly improved end user performance. Eliminating the overload in the SQL WHERE clause by adding an explicit join construct, similar to that included in SQL2, reduced certain types of errors but did not significantly improve performance. We conclude that for organizations seeking to improve end user performance in multi-table database queries it is more effective simply to use an explicit relationship representation in documenting the database structure than to invest in a database query language, such as SQL2, that has an explicit join syntax.

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