Object Identity

Setrag N. Khoshafian, George P. Copeland

Setrag N. Khoshafian, George P. Copeland, Object Identity, ACM SIGPLAN Notices, 21(11):406-416, November 1986.

Identity is that property of an object which distinguishes each object from all others. Identity has been investigated almost independently in general-purpose programming languages and database languages. Its importance is growing as these two environments evolve and merge. We describe a continuum between weak and strong support of identity, and argue for the incorporation of the strong notion of identity at the conceptual level in languages for general purpose programming, database systems and their hybrids. We define a data model that can directly describe complex objects, and show that identity can easily be incorporated in it. Finally, we compare different implementation schemes for identity and argue that a surrogate-based implementation scheme is needed to support the strong notion of identity.


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