A Foundation for Representing and Querying Moving Objects
Spatio-temporal databases deal with geometries changing over time. The goal of our work is to provide a DBMS data model and query language capable of handling such time-dependent geometries, including those changing continuously which describe moving objects. Two fundamental abstractions are moving point and moving region, describing objects for which only the time-dependent position, or position and extent, are of interest, respectively. We propose to represent such time-dependent geometries as attribute data types with suitable operations, that is, to provide an abstract data type extension to a DBMS data model and query language. This paper presents a design of such a system of abstract data types. It turns out that besides the main types of interest, moving point and moving region, a relatively large number of auxiliary data types is needed. For example, one needs a line type to represent the projection of a moving point into the plane, or a "moving real" to represent the time-dependent distance of two moving points. It then becomes crucial to achieve (i) orthogonality in the design of the type system, i.e., type constructors can be applied uniformly, (ii) genericity and consistency of operations, i.e., operations range over as many types as possible and behave consistently, and (iii) closure and consistency between structure and operations of non-temporal and related temporal types. Satisfying these goals leads to a simple and expressive system of abstract data types that may be integrated into a query language to yield a powerful language for querying spatio-temporal data, including moving objects. The paper formally defines the types and operations, offers detailed insight into the considerations that went into the design, and exemplifies the use of the abstract data types using SQL. The paper offers a precise and conceptually clean foundation for implementing a spatio-temporal DBMS extension.
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