Any design of an access path level of a database management system must make allowance for physical reorganization requirements. The facilities provided for such requirements at the access path level have so far been primitive in nature (almost always, in fact, requiring complicated human intervention). This thesis begins to explore the notion of increasing the degree of automation of such requirements at the access path level; to consider the practical basis for self-adapting or self-organizing data management systems. Consideration is first given to the motivation (justification) of such a notion. Then, based on a review of the relevent aspects of a number of existing data management systems, we present a complete design specification and outline for a proposed access path level. Regarding this system we consider in detail the automation of two major aspects of physical organization: the clustering of records on mass storage media and the selection of secondary indices. The results of our analysis of these problems provides a basis for the ultimate demonstration of feasibility of such automation.
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