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IBM Peterlee Relational Test Vehicle (PRTV): Wikis


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PRTV (Peterlee Relational Test Vehicle) was the world's first relational database management system that could handle significant data volumes.

It was a relational query system with powerful query facilities, but very limited update facility and no simultaneous multiuser facility. PRTV was a follow-on from the very first relational implementation, IS1.


PRTV included several firsts in the relational database area:

  • implemented relational optimizer [1]
  • implemented cost based relational optimizer [2]
  • handle tables of 1000 rows up to 10,000,000 rows[3]
  • user defined functions (UDFs) within an RDB (also a large suite of built-in functions such as trigonometric and statistical)[4]
  • geographic information system based on an RDB (using UDFs such as point-in-polygon).[5]

PRTV was based on a relational algebra, Information Systems Base Language (ISBL) and followed the relational model very strictly. Even features such as user defined functions were formalized within that model [6]. The PRTV team also introduced surrogates to the relational model[4] to help formalize relational update operations; and a formalisation for updating through views.[7] However neither of these was implemented within PRTV. PRTV emphatically did not implement NULL values, because of the formal problems these pose.

PRTV was itself never available as a product, but the Urban Management System[8] built on it was available as a limited IBM product.


  1. ^ Hall, Patrick A.V. (May 1976). "Optimization of a single relational expression in a relational database system". IBM J. Res. Dev. 20 (3): 244–257.  
  2. ^ Todd, Stephen (1976). "The Peterlee Relational Test Vehicle - A System Overview". IBM Systems Journal 15 (4): 285–308.  
  3. ^ Storey, R.; W. Trebeljahr, N. Ourusoff, M. Bunzel (1979). "Report of the World Health Organisation Information Systems Programme and IBM UK Scientific Centre study on the design of information systems". UKSC Report 105.  
  4. ^ a b Hall, Patrick A.V.; J. Owlett, Stephen Todd (1976), "Relations and Entities", in Nijssen, G.M., IFIP Working Conference on Modelling in Data Base Management Systems 1976, North Holland, pp. 201–220  
  5. ^ Aldred, B.K.; B.S. Smedley (May 1974). "An urban management system — general overview". Rep. No UKSC-53, IBM UK Scientific Center, Peterlee, England.  
  6. ^ Hall, Patrick A.V.; P. Hitchcock, Stephen Todd (January 1975), "An algebra of relations for machine computation", Conference record of the second ACM Symposium on the Principles of Programming Languages, Palo Alto, California: ACM, pp. 225–232  
  7. ^ Todd, Stephen (August 1977), "Automatic Constraint Maintenance and Updating Defined Relations", in Gilchrist, Bruce, Proceedings of the IFIP Congress 1977, Toronto, Canada: North Holland, pp. 145–148  
  8. ^ Aldred, Barry K.; B.S. Smedley (May 1974). "An urban management system — general overview". Rep. No UKSC-53, IBM UK Scientific Center, Peterlee, England.  


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