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ACM Transactions on Information Systems 8

Editors:Robert B. Allen
Dates:1990
Volume:8
Publisher:ACM
Standard No:ISSN 1046-8188; HF S548.125 A33
Papers:15
Links:Table of Contents
  1. TOIS 1990 Volume 8 Issue 1
  2. TOIS 1990 Volume 8 Issue 2
  3. TOIS 1990 Volume 8 Issue 3
  4. TOIS 1990 Volume 8 Issue 4

TOIS 1990 Volume 8 Issue 1

Research Contributions

Partially Shared Views: A Scheme for Communicating among Groups that Use Different Type Hierarchies BIBAK 1-26
  Jintae Lee; Thomas W. Malone
Many computer systems are based on various types of messages, forms, or other objects. When users of such systems need to communicate with people who use different object types, some kind of translation is necessary. In this paper, we explore the space of general solutions to this translation problem and propose a scheme that synthesizes these solutions. After first illustrating the problem in the Object Lens system, we identify two partly conflicting objectives that any translation scheme should satisfy: preservation of meaning and autonomous evolution of group languages. Then we partition the space of possible solutions to this problem in terms of the set theoretic relations between group languages and a common language. This leads to five primary solution classes and we illustrate and evaluate each one. Finally, we describe a composite scheme, called Partially Shared Views, that combines many of the best features of the other schemes. A key insight of the analysis is that partially shared type hierarchies allow "foreign" object types to be automatically translated into their nearest common "ancestor" types. The partial interoperability attained in this way makes possible flexible standards from which people can benefit from whatever agreements they do have without having to agree on everything. Even though our examples deal primarily with extensions to the Object Lens system, the analysis also suggests how other kinds of systems, such as EDI applications, might exploit specialization hierarchies of object types to simplify the translation problem.
Keywords: Software engineering, Tools and techniques, Modules and interfaces, Software libraries, Software engineering, Management, Software configuration management, Operating systems, Organization and design, Distributed systems, Hierarchical systems, Data, Files, Organization and structure, Information systems, General, Information systems applications, Communications applications, Electronic mail, Artificial intelligence, Applications and expert systems, Office automation, Management of computing and information systems, Software management, Management of computing and information systems, System management, Design, Languages, Management, Standardization, Communication, Computer supported cooperative work, Information Lens, Object Lens, Partially shared views
Compression, Information Theory, and Grammars: A Unified Approach BIBAK 27-49
  Abraham Bookstein; Shmuel T. Klein
Text compression is of considerable theoretical and practical interest. It is, for example, becoming increasingly important for satisfying the requirements of fitting a large database onto a single CD-ROM. Many of the compression techniques discussed in the literature are model based. We here propose the notion of a formal grammar as a flexible model of text generation that encompasses most of the models offered before as well as, in principle, extending the possibility of compression to a much more general class of languages. Assuming a general model of text generation, a derivation is given of the well known Shannon entropy formula, making possible a theory of information based upon test representation rather than on communication. The ideas are shown to apply to a number of commonly used text models. Finally, we focus on a Markov model of text generation, suggest an information theoretic measure of similarity between two probability distributions, and develop a clustering algorithm based on this measure. This algorithm allows us to cluster Markov states, and thereby base our compression algorithm on a smaller number of probability distributions than would otherwise have been required. A number of theoretical consequences of this approach to compression are explored, and a detailed example is given.
Keywords: Data, Coding and information theory, Data compaction and compression, Models and principles, Systems and information theory, Information theory, Information storage and retrieval, Information storage, Artificial intelligence, Natural language processing, Algorithms, Theory, Huffman coding, Markov model of language generation

Practice and Experience

Distributed Form Management BIBAK 50-76
  Heikki Hammainen; Eero Eloranta; Jari Alasuvanto
An open architecture for distributed form management is described. The model employs object-orientation in describing organizational units as well as individual users as entities with uniform external interfaces. Each entity is represented by an autonomous user agent which operates on local and migrating forms. The form concept encapsulates data, layout, and rules into a unified object which is the basic unit of presentation, processing, storage, and communication. All functionality of the system appears in rules of form classes and all data in instances of these form classes. This approach applies the techniques of computer supported cooperative work to provide a flexible mechanism for interpersonal, intraoffice, and interoffice procedures. The main challenge is to organize the collaboration without affecting the autonomy of individual user agents. In this respect, the contribution of the model is the mechanism for form migration. The dynamic integration of forms into different agents is solved with the coordinated interchange of form classes. A specific inheritance scheme provides the desired flexibility by separating the interrelated private and public form operations within each agent. The paper first describes the architecture by starting from a single agent and moving progressively towards a set of cooperating agents. Then an agent implementation called PAGES is described, experiences reported, and the open issues discussed. A typical distributed ordering procedure is used as an example throughout the text.
Keywords: Computer-communication networks, Distributed systems, Distributed applications, Database management, Systems, Object-orientation, Information systems applications, Office automation, Information systems applications, Communications applications, Electronic mail, Human factors, Management, Performance, Computer supported cooperative work, Form management, User agent

TOIS 1990 Volume 8 Issue 2

Research Contributions

A Transient Hypergraph-Based Model for Data Access BIBAK 77-102
  Carolyn Watters; Michael A. Shepherd
Two major methods of accessing data in current database systems are querying and browsing. The more traditional query method returns an answer set that may consist of data values (DBMS), items containing the answer (full text), or items referring the user to items containing the answer (bibliographic). Browsing within a database, as best exemplified by hypertext systems, consists of viewing a database item and linking to related items on the basis of some attribute or attribute value.
   A model of data access has been developed that supports both query and browse access methods. The model is based on hypergraph representation of data instances. The hyperedges and nodes are manipulated through a set of operators to compose new nodes and to instantiate new links dynamically, resulting in transient hypergraphs. These transient hypergraphs are virtual structures created in response to user queries, and lasting only as long as the query session. The model provides a framework for general data access that accommodates user-directed browsing and querying, as well as traditional models of information and data retrieval, such as the Boolean, vector space, and probabilistic models. Finally, the relational database model is shown to provide a reasonable platform for the implementation of this transient hypergraph-based model of data access.
Keywords: Database management, Logic design, Data models, Information storage and retrieval, Information storage, Design, Data access model, Data items, Data manipulation, Data structures, Hypertext, Transient hypergraphs, Virtual structures
Design of the Mneme Persistent Object Store BIBAK 103-139
  J. Eliot B. Moss
The Mneme project is an investigation of techniques for integrating programming language and database features to provide better support for cooperative, information-intensive tasks such as computer-aided software engineering. The project strategy is to implement efficient, distributed, persistent programming languages. We report here on the Mneme persistent object store, a fundamental component of the project, discussing its design and initial prototype. Mneme stores objects in a simple and general format, preserving object identity and object interrelationships. Specific goals for the store include portability, extensibility (especially with respect to object management policies), and performance. The model of memory that the store aims at is a single, cooperatively-shared heap, distributed across a collection of networked computers. The initial prototype is intended mainly to explore performance issues and to support object-oriented persistent programming languages. We include performance measurements from the prototype as well as more qualitative results.
Keywords: Programming languages, Processors, Run-time environments, Operating systems, Storage management, Distributed memories, Segmentation, Storage hierarchies, Virtual memory, Operating systems, File systems management, Access methods, Directory structures, File organization, Operating systems, Organization and design, Operating systems, Performance, Measurements, Operating systems, Systems programs and utilities, Database management, Physical design, Access methods, Database management, Systems, Design, Languages, Performance, Database programming languages, Object-based systems, Object management, Object-oriented database systems, Object-oriented programming languages, Persistent object stores, Persistent programming languages
New Techniques for Best-Match Retrieval BIBAK 140-158
  Dennis Shasha; Tsong-Li Wang
A scheme to answer best-match queries from a file containing a collection of objects is described. A best-match query is to find the objects in the file that are closest (according to some (dis)similarity measure) to a given target.
   Previous work [5, 33] suggests that one can reduce the number of comparisons required to achieve the desired results using the triangle inequality, starting with a data structure for the file that reflects some precomputed intrafile distances. We generalize the technique to allow the optimum use of any given set of precomputed intrafile distances. Some empirical results are presented which illustrate the effectiveness of our scheme, and its performance relative to previous algorithms.
Keywords: Analysis of algorithms and problem complexity, Nonnumerical algorithms and problems, Sorting and searching, Database management, Systems, Query processing, Information storage and retrieval, Information search and retrieval, Search process, Artificial intelligence, Miscellaneous, Algorithms, Performance, Theory, Best match, Distance metrics, File searching, Heuristics, Lower bounds, Matching, Topology, Upper bounds
Imprecise Information and Uncertainty in Information Systems BIBAK 159-180
  J. M. Morrissey
Information systems exist to model, store, and retrieve all types of data. Problems arise when some of the data are missing or imprecisely known or when an attribute is not applicable to a particular object. A consistent and useful treatment of such exceptions is necessary. The approach taken here is to allow any attribute value to be a regular precise value, a string denoting that the value is missing, a string denoting that the attribute is not applicable, or an imprecise value. The imprecise values introduce uncertainty into query evaluation, since it is no longer obvious which objects should be retrieved. To handle the uncertainty, two set of objects are retrieved in response to every query: the set of objects that are known to satisfy with complete certainty and the set that possibly satisfies the query with various degrees of uncertainty. Two methods of estimating this uncertainty, based on information theory, are proposed. The measure of uncertainty is used to rank objects for presentation to a user.
Keywords: Models and principles, Systems and information theory, Information theory, Database management, Systems, Query processing, Design, Management, Incomplete information, Null values, Query evaluation, Uncertainty

TOIS 1990 Volume 8 Issue 3

Research Contributions

The UAN: A User-Oriented Representation for Direct Manipulation Interface Designs BIBAK 181-203
  H. Rex Hartson; Antonio C. Siochi; Deborah Hix
Many existing interface representation techniques, especially those associated with UIMS, are constructional and focused on interface implementation, and therefore do not adequately support a user-centered focus. But it is in the behavioral domain of the user that interface designers and evaluators do their work. We are seeking to complement constructional methods by providing a tool-supported technique capable of specifying the behavioral aspects of an interactive system-the tasks and the actions a user performs to accomplish those tasks. In particular, this paper is a practical introduction to use of the User Action Notation (UAN), a task- and user-oriented notation for behavioral representation of asynchronous, direct manipulation interface designs. Interfaces are specified in UAN as a quasihierarchy of asynchronous tasks. At the lower levels, user actions are associated with feedback and system state changes. The notation makes use of visually onomatopoeic symbols and is simple enough to read with little instruction. UAN is being used by growing numbers of interface developers and researchers. In addition to its design role, current research is investigating how UAN can support production and maintenance of code and documentation.
Keywords: Software engineering, Requirements/specifications, Languages, Software engineering, Tools and techniques, User interfaces, Software engineering, Design, Representation, Design, Human factors, Languages, Behavioral design, Constructional design, Human-computer interface, Representation of interfaces, Task analysis, User interface
ITS: A Tool for Rapidly Developing Interactive Applications BIBAK 204-236
  Charles Wiecha; William Bennett; Stephen Boies; John Gould; Sharon Greene
The ITS architecture separates applications into four layers. The action layer implements back-end application functions. The dialog layer defines the content of the user interface, independent of its style. Content specifies the objects included in each frame of the interface, the flow of control among frames, and what actions are associated with each object. The style rule layer defines the presentation and behavior of a family of interaction techniques. Finally, the style program layer implements primitive toolkit objects that are composed by the rule layer into complete interaction techniques. This paper describes the architecture in detail, compares it with previous User Interface Management Systems and toolkits, and describes how ITS is being used to implement the visitor information system for EXPO'92.
Keywords: Software engineering, Tools and techniques, Software libraries, User interfaces, Models and principles, User/machine systems, Human factors, Information systems applications, General, Computer graphics, Methodology and techniques, Device independence, Ergonomics, Interaction techniques, Languages, Management of computing and information systems, Project and people management, Systems analysis and design, Systems development, Management of computing and information systems, Software management, Software development, Software maintenance, Design, Human factors, Languages, Management, Standardization, Management systems, User interface
Unidraw: A Framework for Building Domain-Specific Graphical Editors BIBAK 237-268
  John M. Vlissides; Mark A. Linton
Unidraw is a framework for creating graphical editors in domains such as technical and artistic drawing, music composition, and circuit design. The Unidraw architecture simplifies the construction of these editors by providing programming abstractions that are common across domains. Unidraw defines four basic abstractions: components encapsulate the appearance and behavior of objects, tools support direct manipulation of components, commands define operations on components, and external representations define the mapping between components and the file format generated by the editor. Unidraw also supports multiple views, graphical connectivity, and dataflow between components. This paper describes the Unidraw design, implementation issues, and three experimental domain-specific editors we have developed with Unidraw: a drawing editor, a user interface builder, and a schematic capture system. Our results indicate a substantial reduction in implementation time and effort compared with existing tools.
Keywords: Software engineering, Tools and techniques, Software libraries, User interfaces, Computer graphics, Graphics utilities, Application packages, Computer applications, Computer-aided engineering, Computer-aided design (CAD), Design, Human factors, Direct manipulation user interfaces, Graphical constraints, Object-oriented graphical editors
Interactive Specification of Flexible User Interface Displays BIBAK 269-288
  Scott E. Hudson; Shamim P. Mohamed
One of the problems with conventional UIMSs is that very often there is no graphical way to specify interfaces. This paper describes OPUS, the user interface editor of the Penguims UIMS. This system allows the presentation component of graphical user interfaces to be specified interactively in a graphical notation without explicit programming. The Penguims UIMS supports an underlying model of computation based loosely on spreadsheets. In particular, it supports incremental computations based on a system of equations (one-way constraints) over a set of named values (spreadsheet cells). These equations are used to provide immediate feedback at all levels of the interface. They are used to incrementally determine the position and dynamic appearance of the individual interactor objects that make up the interface. They are also used to connect the presentation directly to underlying application data thereby supporting semantic feedback. The OPUS user interface editor employs a special graphical notation for specifying the presentation component of a user interface. This notation allows the power of the underlying computational model to be expressed simply and quickly. The resulting presentations are very flexible in nature. They can automatically respond to changes in the size and position of display objects and can directly support derivation of their appearance from application data objects.
Keywords: Software engineering, Tools and techniques, User interfaces, Software engineering, Programming environments, Interactive, Software engineering, Miscellaneous, Rapid prototyping, Computer graphics, Methodology and techniques, Human factors, Languages, Constraint systems, Direct manipulation, End-user programming, Interface builders, User interface management systems
A New Model for Handling Input BIBAK 289-320
  Brad A. Myers
Although there has been important progress in models and packages for the output of graphics to computer screens, there has been little change in the way that input from the mouse, keyboard, and other input devices is handled. New graphics standards are still using a fifteen-year-old model even though it is widely accepted as inadequate, and most modern window managers simply return a stream of low-level, device-dependent input events. This paper presents a new model that handles input devices for highly interactive, direct manipulation, graphical user interfaces, which could be used in future toolkits, window managers, and graphics standards. This model encapsulates interactive behaviors into a few "Interactor" object types. Application programs can then create instances of these Interactor objects which hide the details of the underlying window manager events. In addition, Interactors allow a clean separation between the input handling, the graphics, and the application programs. This model has been extensively used as part of the Garnet system and has proven to be convenient, efficient, and easy to learn.
Keywords: Software engineering, Tools and techniques, User interfaces, Computer graphics, Methodology and techniques, Human factors, Direct manipulation, Input devices, Interaction, Interaction techniques, Model-view controller, Object-oriented design, User interface management systems

TOIS 1990 Volume 8 Issue 4

Research Contributions

Telos: Representing Knowledge About Information Systems BIBAK 325-362
  John Mylopoulos; Alex Borgida; Matthias Jarke; Manolis Koubarakis
We describe Telos, a language intended to support the development of information systems. The design principles for the language are based on the premise that information system development is knowledge intensive and that the primary responsibility of any language intended for the task is to be able to formally represent the relevant knowledge. Accordingly, the proposed language is founded on concepts from knowledge representation. Indeed, the language is appropriate for representing knowledge about a variety of worlds related to an information system, such as the subject world (application domain), the usage world (user models, environments), the system world (software requirements, design), and the development world (teams, methodologies).
   We introduce the features of the language through examples, focusing on those provided for describing metaconcepts that can then be used to describe knowledge relevant to a particular information system. Telos' features include an object-centered framework which supports aggregation, generalization, and classification; a novel treatment of attributes; an explicit representation of time; and facilities for specifying integrity constraints and deductive rules. We review actual applications of the language through further examples, and we sketch a formalization of the language.
Keywords: Software engineering, Requirements/specifications, Languages, Methodologies, Software engineering, Design, Methodologies, Representation, Models and principles, General, Artificial intelligence, Knowledge representation formalisms and methods, Representation languages, Semantic networks, Predicate logic, Management of computing and information systems, Software management, Software development, Design, Languages, Belief time, Class, Deductive rules, History time, Instance, Integrity constraints, Knowledge base, Metaclass, Proposition, Temporal knowledge
Experiments with a Component Theory of Probabilistic Information Retrieval Based on Single Terms as Document Components BIBAK 363-386
  K. L. Kwok
A component theory of information retrieval using single content terms as component for queries and documents was reviewed and experimented with. The theory has the advantages of being able to (1) bootstrap itself, that is, define initial term weights naturally based on the fact that items are self-relevant; (2) make use of within-item term frequencies; (3) account for query-focused and document-focused indexing and retrieval strategies cooperatively; and (4) allow for component-specific feedback if such information is available. Retrieval results with four collections support the effectiveness of all the first three aspects, except for predictive retrieval. At the initial indexing stage, the retrieval theory performed much more consistently across collections than Croft's model and provided results comparable to Salton's tf*idf approach. An inverse collection term frequency (ICTF) formula was also tested that performed much better than the inverse document frequency (IDF). With full feedback retrospective retrieval, the component theory performed substantially better than Croft's, because of the highly specific nature of document-focused feedback. Repetitive retrieval results with partial relevance feedback mirrored those for the retrospective. However, for the important case of predictive retrieval using residual ranking, results were not unequivocal.
Keywords: Information storage and retrieval, Content analysis and indexing, Indexing methods, Information storage and retrieval, Information search and retrieval, Retrieval models, Experimentation, Theory, Document-focused and query-focused relevance feedback, Indexing and retrieval, Inverse collection term frequency weighting, Inverse document frequency weighting, Probabilistic indexing, Probabilistic retrieval, Ranking and weighting of composite objects
Queries and Query Processing in Object-Oriented Database Systems BIBAK 387-430
  Dave D. Straube; M. Tamer Ozsu
Object-oriented database management systems (OODBMS) combine the data abstraction and computational models of object-oriented programming languages with the query and performance capabilities of database management systems. A concise, formal data model for OODBMS has not been universally accepted, preventing detailed investigation of various system issues such as query processing. We define a data model that captures the essence of classification-based object-oriented systems and formalize concepts such as object identity, inheritance, and methods. The main topic of the paper is the presentation of a query processing methodology complete with an object calculus and a closed object algebra. Query processing issues such as query safety and object calculus to object algebra translation are discussed in detail. The paper concludes with a discussion of equivalence-preserving transformation rules for object algebra expressions.
Keywords: Programming languages, Language constructs, Abstract data types, Data types and structures, Modules and packages, Database management, Logical design, Data models, Database management, Languages, Query languages, Database management, Systems, Query processing, Algorithms, Design, Languages, Object algebra, Object calculus, Object-oriented databases, Query transformation rules