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Patranjan, Paula-Lavinia (2005): The Language XChange: A Declarative Approach to Reactivity on the Web. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics
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Abstract

The research topic investigated by this thesis is reactivity on the Web. Reactivity on the Web is an emerging research issue covering: updating data on the Web, exchanging information about events (such as executed updates) between Web sites, and reacting to combinations of such events. Following a declarative approach to reactivity on the Web, a novel reactive language called XChange is proposed. Novelties of the language are represented by the proposed data metaphor intended to ease the language understanding and the supported reactive features tailored to the characteristics of the Web. Realising this pressuposed refining, extending, and adapting to a new medium some of the concepts on which active database systems are built upon. Reactivity is specified in XChange by means of reactive rules (or event-condition-action rules) having the following components: the event part is a query against events that occurred on the Web, the condition part is a query against Web resources (expressed in the Web query language Xcerpt), and the action part is a transaction specification (specifying updates to be executed and events to be raised in an all-or-nothing manner). Novel in XChange is its ability to detect composite events on the Web, i.e. possibly time related combinations of events that have occurred at (same or different) Web sites. XChange introduces a novel view over the Web data by stressing a clear separation between persistent data (data of Web resources, such as XML or HTML documents) and volatile data (event data communicated on the Web between XChange programs). Based on the differences between these kinds of data, the data metaphor is that of written text vs. speech. XChange's language design enforces this clear separation and entails new characteristics of event processing on the Web. After motivating the need for a solution to reactivity on the Web, this thesis introduces the design principles and syntax of the language XChange accompanied by use cases for demonstrating the practical applicability of its constructs. Important contributions of the thesis are the specification of the language semantics and the description of an algortihm for evaluating XChange programs.