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Schema evolution is a problem that is faced by long-lived data. When a schema changes, existing persistent data can become inaccessible unless the database system provides mechanisms to access data created with previous versions of the schema. Most existing systems that support schema evolution focus on changes local to individual types within the schema, thereby limiting the changes that the database maintainer can perform. We have developed a model of type changes incorporating changes local to individual types as well as compound changes involving multiple types. The model describes both type changes and their impact on data by defining derivation rules to initialize new data based on the existing data. The derivation rules can describe local and nonlocal changes to types to capture the intent of a large class of type change operations. We have built a system called Tess (Type Evolution Software System) that uses this model to recognize type changes by comparing schemas and then produces a transformer that can update data in a database to correspond to a newer version of the schema.


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