Requirements of Object-Oriented Databases for Supporting Collaborative Engineering

by Shamim Ahmed, MIT, Cambridge, United States,
Duvvuru Sriram, MIT, Cambridge, United States,
Robert Logcher, MIT, Cambridge, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Preparing for Construction in the 21st Century


Object-oriented programming is gradually evolving into a popular and standard paradigm for large software application development. Typical examples include computer-aided design and engineering (CAD/CAE), computer-aided software engineering (CASE), and office information systems (OIS). For such applications that are data or knowledge intensive, and require collaborative participation, traditional storage mechanisms, such as a application specific file structures are grossly inadequate, and necessitate a database system for information management. Object-oriented databases provide persistence to design objects, concurrency, consistency and all the other features of a database management system. The object data representation combined with DBMS facilities provides a powerful medium for modeling, coordination, storage and manipulation of engineering information. A large computer-aided-design or engineering (CAD/CAE) project (such as aircraft design) typically involves a group of designers working cooperatively on distributed workstations to complete a complex design by closely interacting among themselves and dynamically sharing design data and information. Such design environments necessitate powerful data modeling, sharing and management tools, network communication protocols and a flexible framework for concurrency management of highly interleaved and interactive transactions. Traditional relational database management systems (RDBMS) are restricted in their ability to model complex data and their intricate relationships and fail to capture design semantics or hierarchical organization of the design process in the database. They are, therefore, poor tools for collaborative engineering work. In this paper, we discuss the various requirements of a object-oriented database management system (OODBMS) for supporting collaborative engineering design. This study forms an integral component of an ongoing effort at MIT called DICE (Distributed and Integrated Computer-aided Engineering Environment) which consists of a set of object-oriented tools aimed at addressing data modeling, transaction management and coordination and communication problems in collaborative engineering.

Subject Headings: Databases | Computer aided design | Systems management | Computing in civil engineering | Systems engineering | Information management | Computer programming | Computer models

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