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1. (WO2007001599) TRAVERSING A RELATIONAL MODEL WITH PREFERRED PATHS
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WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:
1. A computer-based method comprising:
providing a representation of a data structure in the form of a plurality of entities having relations between them indicative of roles and the relations reflecting a cardinality of one of a one-to-one, one-to-many and a many-to-one relationship between the entities;
receiving an indication of a query relating a first selected entity to a second selected entity;
finding a preferred path through the entities and relations that couples the first selected entity to the second selected entity;
the preferred path selected from a plurality of paths as a function of the number of changes in cardinality along the plurality of paths and an indicator indicative of preferred roles relating two entities.
2. The method as recited in claim 1 wherein a path having at least one indicator indicative of a preferred role along the path is preferred over a path having no indicator indicative of a preferred role.
3. The method as recited in claim 2 wherein a path having a number of changes in cardinality direction of less than two is preferred over a path having a number of changes in cardinality direction of two or more.
4. The method as recited in claim 3 wherein a plurality of paths may have non-identical subpaths and wherein paths containing a subpath having at least one indicator indicative of a preferred role along the subpath are preferred over paths containing a subpath having no indicator indicative of a preferred role.
5. The method as recited in claim 1 wherein the data structure is a database.

6. The method as recited in claim 1 wherein a users selects two entities to relate and wherein a preferred path is automatically selected.
7. The method as recited in claim 1 wherein the step of finding a preferred path further comprises calculating all valid paths between the entities and removing non-preferred paths from consideration based on at least one path having a preferred role and at least one other path having no preferred roles.
8. A computer-readable medium bearing computer-readable instructions for carrying out the acts comprising:
receiving a representation of a data structure in the form of a plurality of representations of entities having relations between them indicative of roles and wherein the representation comprises and indication of the cardinality of a
relationship between entities;
receiving input indicative of a preferred roles relating two entities;
receiving an indication of a query relating a first selected entity to a second selected entity;
finding a preferred path through the entities and relations that couples the first selected entity to the second selected entity as a function of the indicator indicative of preferred roles relating two entities.
9. The computer-readable medium bearing computer-readable instructions as recited in claim 8 wherein the step of finding a preferred path through the entities and relations that couples the first entity to the second selected entity further comprises selecting from a plurality of paths as a function of the number of changes in cardinality along the plurality of paths.
10. The computer-readable medium bearing computer-readable instructions as recited in claim 9 wherein the changes in cardinality represents a change along a path from a one-to-many to a many-to-one relationship between the entities.
11. The computer-readable medium bearing computer-readable instructions as recited in claim 9 wherein the changes in cardinality represents a change along a path from a many-to-one to a one-to-many relationship between the entities.
12. The method as recited in claim 8 wherein a path having at least one indicator indicative of a preferred role along the path is preferred over a path having no indicator indicative of a preferred role.
13. The method as recited in claim 10 wherein a path having a number of changes in cardinality direction of less than two is preferred over a path having a number of changes in cardinality direction of two or more.
14. The method as recited in claim 12 wherein a plurality of paths may have non-identical subpaths and wherein paths containing a subpath having at least one indicator indicative of a preferred role along the subpath are preferred over paths containing a subpath having no indicator indicative of a preferred role.
15. A computer-readable medium bearing computer-readable instructions for carrying out the acts comprising:
receiving a representation of a data structure in the form of a plurality of representations of entities having relations between them indicative of roles and wherein the representation comprises and indication of the cardinality of a
relationship between entities;
receiving input indicative of a preferred roles relating two entities;
receiving an indication of a query relating a first selected entity to a second selected entity;
finding a preferred path through the entities and relations that couples the first selected entity to the second selected entity as a function of a change in cardinality along the plurality of paths relating two entities.
16. The computer-readable medium bearing computer-readable instructions as recited in claim 15 further comprising finding a preferred path through the entities and relations that couples the first selected entity to the second selected entity as a function of the indicator indicative of preferred roles relating two entities.
17. The computer-readable medium bearing computer-readable instructions as recited in claim 15 wherein the changes in cardinality represents a change along a path from a one-to-many to a many-to-one relationship between the entities.
18. The computer-readable medium bearing computer-readable instructions as recited in claim 15 wherein the changes in cardinality represents a change along a path from a many-to-one to a one-to-many relationship between the entities.
19. The method as recited in claim 16 wherein a path having at least one indicator indicative of a preferred role along the path is preferred over a path having no indicator indicative of a preferred role.
20. The method as recited in claim 15 wherein a path having a number of changes in cardinality direction of less than two is preferred over a path having a number of changes in cardinality direction of two or more.