National Science Foundation-IIS
SGER--Science of Design
Collaborative Research:

Support for Design of Evolving Information Systems

Principal Investigators

            Carlo Zaniolo   <>
            Vassilis Tsotras <>


A perennial problem in designing information systems is enabling them to cope with continuous evolution. This problem manifests itself in many settings, including software management, configuration management and web-page evolution. The problem is particularly important as information systems are being designed (or re-designed) with a web-centered (typically XML-based) focus.

The objective of this project is to extend database technology to better support the design and development of information systems that gracefully adapt to changes. Therefore, database systems must be extended with the ability to (i) manage and query efficiently temporal/historical information, (ii) support version control for data sets, and software artifacts, and (iii) unify management of data and metadata and reduce the problem of configuration management to that of temporal querying and version retrieval.

The approach proposed to this challenging problem exploits XML ability to unify data and metadata and support powerful query languages. The evolution of information systems---their data, metadata, and software artifacts--- is thus unified and modelled by time-stamped XML documents. The project will test the newly defined capabilities to be tested in a pilot study,where an existing information system for resume management and job placement are re-designed for evolution. Experiments based on past and planned changes, are used to validate the effectiveness of the solutions developed in the project. These will pave the way to designing information systems for evolution and maintainability. Results will be disseminated via publications, reports and demos available from the project web sites: