Department of Computer Science and Technology

Technical reports

The JACKDAW database package

M.F. Challis

October 1974, 15 pages


This report describes a general database package which has been implemented in BCPL on an IBM 370/165 at the University of Cambridge. One current application is the provision of an administrative database for the Computing Service.

Entries within a database may include (in addition to primitive fields such as ‘salary’ and ‘address’) links to other entries: each link represents a relationship between two entries and is always two-way.

Generality is achieved by including within each database class definitions which define the structure of the entries within it; these definitions may be interrogated by program.

The major part of the package presents a procedural interface between an application program and an existing database, enabling entries and their fields to be created, interrogated, updated and deleted. The creation of a new database (or modification of an existing one) by specifying the class definitions is handled by a separate program.

The first part of the report describes the database structure and this is followed by an illustration of the procedural interface. Finally, some of the implementation techniques used to insure integrity of the database are described.

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BibTeX record

  author =	 {Challis, M.F.},
  title = 	 {{The JACKDAW database package}},
  year = 	 1974,
  month = 	 oct,
  url = 	 {},
  institution =  {University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory},
  number = 	 {UCAM-CL-TR-1}