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Ph.D. Theses

The Design and Implementation of an Integrated Large-scale Product Database

By Jianhong Sun
Advisor: Martin Hardwick
July 21, 2000

Collaborative and concurrent product design and manufacturing require intensive exchange and sharing of product information between different systems. ISO STEP provides a set of standards to describe the engineering activities and information in the life cycle of products. Product databases built around STEP models have been expected to address the issue of exchanging and sharing product information between different systems.

Product databases have been less successful compared to business databases. One reason is because product models usually are more complex and contain more definitions than business models. This work analyzes the impact of the complexity of product models, especially those defined in STEP, on building an integrated large-scale product database. Data integration, database programming, and the performance of data retrieval are identified as three major challenges for building such a database. Solutions are proposed to address those challenges and a prototype database is created to implement them. Experiments on the prototype database are also presented to verify the effectiveness and efficiency of the solutions.

Even though this work mainly focuses on the models defined in STEP, its results and lessons can be applied to other database models that present similar characteristics to STEP product models. Some results from the work, such as the indexing mechanism and integration method, may have impacts on general database management issues.

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