The Lorel query language for semistructured data
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language, designed for querying semistructured data. Semistructured data is becoming more and more prevalent, e.g., in structured documents such as HTML and when performing simple integration of data from multiple sources. Traditional data models and query languages are inappropriate, since semistructured data often is irregular: some data is missing, similar concepts are represented using different types, heterogeneous sets are present, or object structure is not fully known. Lorel is a user-friendly language in the SQL/OQL style for querying such data effectively. For wide applicability, the simple object model underlying Lorel can be viewed as an extension of the ODMG data model and the Lorel language as an extension of OQL. The main novelties of the Lorel language are: (i) the extensive use of coercion to relieve the user from the strict typing of OQL, which is inappropriate for semistructured data; and (ii) powerful path expressions, which permit a flexible form of declarative navigational access and are particularly suitable when the details of the structure are not known to the user. Lorel also includes a declarative update language. Lorel is implemented as the query language of the Lore prototype database management system at Stanford. Information about Lore can be found at http://www-db.stanford.edu/lore. In addition to presenting the Lorel language in full, this paper briefly describes the Lore system and query processor. We also briefly discuss a second implementation of Lorel on top of a conventional object-oriented database management system, the O2 system.
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