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Information stored in the database represent mappings between function arguments and results. These mappings are either defined at object creation time or altered by one of the function update statements: set, add, or remove. The extent of a function is the bag of tuples mapping its arguments to corresponding results. Updating a stored function means updating its extent.

The set statement sets the value of an updatable function given the arguments.

For example, assume we have defined the following functions:

   create function name(Person) -> Charstring as stored

create function hobbies(Person) -> Bag of Charstring as stored

Furthermore, assume we have created two objects of type Person bound to the session variables :sam and :eve:

   create Person instances :sam, :eve

To set the names of the two persons, do:

   set name(:sam) = "Sam"

set name(:eve) = "Eve"

To populate a bag valued function you can use bag construction:

   set hobbies(:eve) = bag("Camping","Diving")

The add statement adds a result object to a bag valued function.

For example, to make Sam have the hobbies sailing and fishing, do:

   add hobbies(:sam) = "Sailing"

add hobbies(:sam) = "Fishing"

The remove statement removes the specified tuple(s) from the result of an updatable bag valued function.


   remove hobbies(:sam) = "Fishing"

The statement

   set hobbies(:eve) = hobbies(:sam)

will update Eve's all hobbies to be the same a Sam's hobbies.

Several object properties can be assigned by queries in update statements.

For example, to make Eve have the same hobbies as Sam except sailing, do:

   set hobbies(:eve) = h
from Charstring h
where h in hobbies(:sam)
and h != "Sailing"

Here a query first retrieves all hobbies h of :sam before the hobbies of :eve are set.

A boolean function can be set to either true or false.


   create function married(Person,Person) -> Boolean as stored

set married(:sam,:eve) = true

Setting the value of a boolean function to false means that the truth value is removed from the extent of the function.

For example, to divorce Sam and Eve you can do either of the following:

   set married(:sam,:eve)=false


   remove married(:sam) = :eve

Not every function is updatable. A function is updatable if it is a stored function, or if it is derived from a single updatable function with a join that includes all arguments. In particular inverses to stored functions are updatable.

For example, the following function is updatable:

   create function marriedto(Person p) -> Person q
as select q where married(p,q)

The user can define update procedures for derived functions making also non-updatable functions updatable.

You can store records in stored functions.


   create function pdata(Person) -> Record
as stored

create Person(pdata) instances
({'Greeting':'Hello, I am Tore',

The query:

   select r['Greeting']
from Person p, Record r
where name(p)='Tore'
and pdata(p)=r

will return the string "Hello, I am Tore".

Cardinality constraints

A cardinality constraint is a system maintained restriction on the number of allowed occurrences in the database of an argument or result of a stored function. For example, a cardinality constraint can be that there is at most one salary per person, while a person may have any number of children. The cardinality constraints are normally specified by function signatures.

The following example restricts each person to have one salary while many children are allowed:

   create function salary(Person p) -> Charstring nm
as stored

create function children(Person p) -> Bag of Person
as stored

The system prohibits database updates that violate the cardinality constraints. For the function salary() an error is raised if one tries to make a person have two salaries when updating it with the add statement, while there is no such restriction on children(). If the cardinality constraint is violated by a database update the following error message is printed:

Update would violate upper object participation (updating function ...)

In general one can maintain four kinds of cardinality constraints for a function modeling a relationship between types, many-one, many-many,one-one, and one-many:

many-one is the default when defining a stored function as in salary().

many-many is specified by prefixing the result type specification with Bag of as in children(). In this case there is no cardinality constraint enforced.

one-one is specified by suffixing a result variable with key.


   create function name(Person p) -> Charstring nm key
as stored

will guarantee that a person's name is unique.

one-many is normally represented by an inverse function with cardinality constraint many-one.

Suppose we want to represent a one-many relationship between types Department and Employee, i.e. there can be many employees for a given department but only one department for a given employee. The recommended way is to define the function department() enforcing a many-one constraint between employees as departments:

   create function department(Employee e) -> Department d
as stored

The inverse function can then be defined as a derived function:

   create function employees(Department d) -> Bag of Employee e
as select e
where department(e) = d

Since inverse functions are updatable the function employees() is also updatable and can be used when populating the database.

Any variable in a stored function can be specified as key, which will restrict the updates to maintain key uniqueness.

Cardinality constraints can also be specified for foreign functions, which is important for optimizing queries using the functions. It is then up to the foreign function implementer to guarantee that specified cardinality constraints hold.

Dynamic updates

Sometimes it is necessary to create objects whose types are not known until runtime. Similarly one may wish to update functions without knowing the name of the function until runtime. This is achieved by the following procedural system functions:

   createobject(Type t) -> Object
createobject(Charstring tpe) -> Object
deleteobject(Object o) -> Boolean
addfunction(Function f, Vector argl, Vector resl) -> Boolean
remfunction(Function f, Vector argl, Vector resl) -> Boolean
setfunction(Function f, Vector argl, Vector resl) -> Boolean

The function createobject() creates an object of the type specified by its argument.

The function deleteobject() deletes an object.

The functions setfunction(), addfunction(), and remfunction() update a function given an argument list and a result tuple as vectors. They return true if the update succeeded.

To delete all rows in a stored function fn, use:

   dropfunction(Function fn, Integer permanent)->Function

If the parameter permanent is the number one the deletion cannot be rolled back, which saves space if the extent of the function is large.