A model for query decomposition and answer construction in heterogeneous distributed database systems

Lachlan M. MacKinnon, David H. Marwick, Howard Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The problem of retrieving information from a collection of heterogeneous distributed databases has attracted a number of solutions. However, the task of integrating established database systems is complicated not only by the differences between the database systems themselves, but also by the differences in structure and semantics of the information contained within them. The problem is exacerbated when one needs to provide access to such a system for naive end-users. This paper is concerned with a Knowledge-Based Systems approach to solving this problem for clearly bounded situations, in which both the domain and the types of query are constrained. At the user interface, dialogue is conducted in terms of concepts with which the user is familiar, and these are then mapped into appropriate database queries. To achieve this a model for query decomposition and answer construction has been used. This model is based around the development of an Intensional Structure containing information necessary for the recapture of semantic information lost in the query decomposition process and required in the answer construction process. The model has been successfully implemented in combination with an embedded KBS, within a five-layer representation model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-87
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Intelligent Information Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1998


  • Heterogeneous distributed databases
  • Intensional structure
  • Knowledge-based systems
  • Query decomposition


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