PersDB 2008

2nd International Workshop on
Personalized Access, Profile Management, and Context Awareness: Databases


   Programme sessions

      Invited talk

      Paper session 1

      Paper session 2


   Invited talk

      Context-aware databases: problems and solutions

Many interpretations of the notion of context have emerged in various fields of research like psychology, philosophy, or computer science. Context has often a significant impact on the way humans (or machines) act, and on how they interpret things; furthermore, a change in context causes a transformation in the experience that is going to be lived. Context goes beyond immediate binding of variables, to the establishment of a framework for communication based on shared experience: such a shared framework provides a collection of roles and relations to organize meaning for a piece of information. The word itself, derived from the Latin cum (with or together) and texere (to weave), describes a context not just as a profile, but as an active process dealing with the way humans weave their experience within their whole environment, to give it meaning. Accordingly, while the computer science community has initially perceived the context as a matter of user location, in the last few years sophisticated and general context models have been proposed, to support context-aware applications which use them to adapt interfaces, determine the set of application-relevant data, increase the precision of information retrieval, discover services, make the user interaction implicit, or build smart environments, just to name a few. Among the well-known abstraction mechanisms used in Information Management to deal with complexity (see abstractions for database design), the viewpoint abstraction has received little attention; context provides a viewpoint mechanism that takes into account implicit background knowledge to determine which information is relevant with respect to the ambient conditions. Indeed, the plethora of available data and data sources requires not only to integrate, but also to filter them, in order to provide the user with appropriately tailored information which matches devices' physical constraints, improves query processing efficiency, offers time- and location-relevant knowledge (mobile applications). Given this scenario, the talk provides a short analysis of the most interesting approaches to context modelling and usage available in the literature, and presents a context model and a methodology appropriate for data tailoring.

Letizia Tanca studied Mathematics at the University of Naples, where she obtained her Master's degree in Mathematical Logic; she then worked for four years as a software engineer in telecommunication firms. Letizia Tanca obtained her Ph.D. in Computer Science in 1988. Later, she remained with Politecnico di Milano first as a research associate and then as an associate professor. She joined the University of Verona in 1995 and stayed there as the chair of the Computer Science course until 1998. Letizia Tanca is currently with Politecnico di Milano again, as a full professor, and has held the chair of the degree and master courses in Computer Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano, (Leonardo campus) from 2000 to 2006. She has taught and teaches courses on Databases, Foundations of Computer Science, and Information Systems Technologies. She is the author of several papers on databases and database theory, published in international journals and conferences, and of the book "Logic Programming and Databases", coauthored with S. Ceri and G. Gottlob. She has been the local leader of several national and international projects. Her research interests have ranged over all database theory, especially on deductive, active and object oriented databases, graph-based languages for databases, the semantics of advanced database and information systems, representation and querying of semi-structured information. Her most recent research interests concern context-aware database design, data management for mobile and pervasive systems, and dynamic, semantics-based database integration. Letizia Tanca has been a referee of several international journals, and a member of the program committee of a large number of international conferences.

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