Temporal Support in Relational Databases
This paper examines the current state of temporal support in relational databases and the type of situations where we need that support. There has been much research in this area and there were attempts in the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) standards committees in the late 1990s to add an extension called TSQL2 to the existing SQL standard. However no agreement could be reached as it was felt that some of the suggested extensions did not fit well with the relational model, as well as being difficult to implement. TSQL2 was abandoned and since then vendors have added their own data types, and if we are lucky, operators too in an attempt to provide support. However, to novice students and database designers it is often not apparent why some temporal concepts are difficult to deal with in a relational database. In teaching these concepts to students we use a Case Study (based on a real example) which illustrates the problems of providing temporal support by using examples of the data types which could be useful to solve temporal problems and the operators which are necessary to provide this.