Conceptual modeling of multimedia databases

The gap between the semantic content of multimedia data and its underlying physical representation is one of the main problems in the modern multimedia research in general, and, in particular, in the field of multimedia database modeling. We believe that one of the principal reasons of this problem is the attempt to conceptually represent multimedia data in a way, which is similar to its low-level representation by applications dealing with encoding standards, feature-based multimedia analysis, etc. In our opinion, such conceptual representation of multimedia contributes to the semantic gap by separating the representation of multimedia information from the representation of the universe of discourse of an application, to which the multimedia information pertains. In this research work we address the problem of conceptual modeling of multimedia data in a way to deal with the above-mentioned limitations. First, we introduce two different paradigms of conceptual understanding of the essence of multimedia data, namely: multimedia as data and multimedia as metadata. The multimedia as data paradigm, which views multimedia data as the subject of modeling in its own right, is inherent to so-called multimedia-centric applications, where multimedia information itself represents the main part of the universe of discourse. The examples of such kind of applications are digital photo collections or digital movie archives. On the other hand, the multimedia as metadata paradigm, which is inherent to so-called multimedia-enhanced applications, views multimedia data as just another (optional) source of information about whatever universe of discourse that the application pertains to. An example of a multimedia-enhanced application is a human-resource database augmented with employee photos. Here the universe of discourse is the totality of company employees, while their photos simply represent an additional (possibly optional) kind of information describing the universe of discourse. The multimedia conceptual modeling approach that we present in this work allows addressing multimedia-centric applications, as well as, in particular, multimedia-enhanced applications. The model that we propose builds upon MADS (Modeling Application Data with Spatio-temporal features), which is a rich conceptual model defined in our laboratory, and which is, in particular, characterized by structural completeness, spatio-temporal modeling capabilities, and multirepresentation support. The proposed multimedia model is provided in the form of a new modeling dimension of MADS, whose orthogonality principle allows to integrate the new multimedia modeling dimension with already existing modeling features of MADS. The following multimedia modeling constructs are provided: multimedia datatypes, simple and complex representational constraints (relationships), a multimedia partitioning mechanism, and multimedia multirepresentation features. Following the description of our conceptual multimedia modeling approach based on MADS, we present the peculiarities of logical multimedia modeling and of conceptual-to-logical inter-layer transformations. We provide a set of mapping guidelines intended to help the schema designer in coming up with rich logical multimedia document representations of the application domain, which conform with the conceptual multimedia schema. The practical interest of our research is illustrated by a mock-up application, which has been developed to support the theoretical ideas described in this work. In particular, we show how the abstract conceptual set-based representations of multimedia data elements, as well as simple and complex multimedia representational relationships can be implemented using Oracle DBMS.

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