NCEAS Product 22930

Bowers, Shawn; Delcambre, L. 2004. Incremental navigation: Providing simple and generic access to heterogeneous structures. Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Conceptual Modeling (ER), LNCS. Vol: 3288. Pages 668-681. (Abstract) (Online version)


We present an approach to support incremental navigation of structured information, where the structure is introduced by the data model and schema (if present) of a data source. Simple browsing through data values and their connections is an effective way for a user or an automated system to access and explore information. We use our previously defined Uni-Level Description (ULD) to represent an information source explicitly by capturing the source’s data model, schema (if present), and data values. We define generic operators for incremental navigation that use the ULD directly along with techniques for specifying how a given representation scheme can be navigated. Because our navigation is based on the ULD, the operations can easily move from data to schema to data model and back, supporting a wide range of applications for exploring and integrating data. Further, because the ULD can express a broad range of data models, our navigation operators are applicable, without modification, across the corresponding model or schema. In general, we believe that information sources may usefully support various styles of navigation, depending on the type of user and the user’s desired task.