Technical Reports (CIS)

Document Type

Technical Report

Date of this Version

September 1992


University of Pennsylvania Department of Computer and Information Science Technical Report No. MS-CIS-92-72.


The polymorphic type system of ML can be extended in two ways to make it the appropriate basis of a database programming language. The first is an extension to the language of types that captures the polymorphic nature of field selection; the second is a technique that generalizes relational operators to arbitrary data structures. The combination provides a statically typed language in which relational databases may be cleanly represented as typed structures. As in ML types are inferred, which relieves the programmer of making the rather complicated type assertions that may be required to express the most general type of a program that involving field selection and generalized relational operators. These extensions may also be used to provide static polymorphic typechecking in object-oriented languages and databases. A problem that arises with object-oriented databases is the apparent need for dynamic typechecking when dealing with queries on heterogeneous collections of objects. An extension of the type system needed for generalized relational operations can also be used for manipulating collections of dynamically typed values in a statically typed language. A prototype language based on these ideas has been implemented. While it lacks a proper treatment of persistent data, it demonstrates that a wide variety of database structures can be cleanly represented in a polymorphic programming language.



Date Posted: 17 August 2007