MICRO Relational Database Management System

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The MICRO Relational Database Management System was the first large-scale set-theoretic database management system to be used in production.[1] Though MICRO was initially considered to be an "Information Management System", it was eventually recognized to provide all the capabilities of an RDBMS. MICRO's major underpinnings and algorithms were based on the Set-Theoretic Data Structure (STDS) model developed by D. L. Childs of the University of Michigan's CONCOMP (Conversational Use of Computers) Project.[2][3][4] MICRO featured a natural language interface which allowed non-programmers to use the system.[5][6]

Implementation of MICRO began in 1970 as part of the Labor Market Information System (LMIS) project at the University of Michigan's Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations (ILIR). Dr. Malcolm S. Cohen was Director of the LMIS Project and was the principal innovator and designer of the original MICRO Retrieval System.[7] Carol Easthope and Jack Guskin were the principal programmers. D.L. Childs, Vice President of Set Theoretic Information Systems (STIS) Corporation, provided continuing guidance in the use of Set-Theoretic Data Structure (STDS) data access software for MICRO. Funding came from the Office of Manpower Administration within the U.S. Department of Labor.[5] MICRO was first used for the study of large social science data bases referred to as micro data; hence the name. Organizations such as the US Department of Labor, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and researchers from the University of Alberta, the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, and Durham University used MICRO to manage very large scale databases until 1998.

MICRO runs under the Michigan Terminal System (MTS), the interactive time-sharing system developed at the University of Michigan that runs on IBM System/360 Model 67, System/370, and compatible mainframe computers.[8] MICRO provides a query language, a database directory, and a data dictionary to create an interface between the user and the very efficient proprietary Set-Theoretic Data Structure (STDS) software developed by the Set-Theoretic Information Systems Corporation (STIS) of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The lower level routines from STIS treat the data bases as sets and perform set operations on them, e.g., union, intersection, restrictions, etc. Although the underlying STDS model is based on set theory, the MICRO user interface is similar to those subsequently used in relational database management systems.[2][9] MICRO's data representation can be thought of as a matrix or table in which the rows represent different records or "cases", and the columns contain individual data items for each record; however, the actual data representation is in set-theoretic form. In labor market applications the rows typically represent job applicants or employees and columns represent fields such as age, sex, and income or type of industry, number of employees, and payroll.[1]

MICRO permits users with little programming experience to define, enter, interrogate, manipulate, and update collections of data in a relatively unstructured and unconstrained environment.[5] An interactive system, MICRO is powerful in terms of the complexity of requests which can be made by users without prior programming language experience.[10] MICRO includes basic statistical computations such as mean, variance, frequency, median, etc. If more rigorous statistical analysis are desired, the data from a MICRO database can be exported to the Michigan Interactive Data Analysis System (MIDAS),[11] a statistical analysis package available under the Michigan Terminal System.[12]


  1. ^ a b "A set theoretic data structure and retrieval language" (PDF), William R. Hershey and Carol H. Easthope, Paper from the Session on Data Structures, Spring Joint Computer Conference, May 1972 in ACM SIGIR Forum, Volume 7, Issue 4 (December 1972), pp. 45-55, DOI=10.1145/1095495.1095500
  2. ^ a b "Sets, Data Models and Data Independence", by Ken North a Dr. Dobb's Blogger, March 10, 2010
  3. ^ Description of a set-theoretic data structure, D. L. Childs, 1968, Technical Report 3 of the CONCOMP (Research in Conversational Use of Computers) Project, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  4. ^ Feasibility of a Set-Theoretic Data Structure : A General Structure Based on a Reconstituted Definition of Relation, D. L. Childs, 1968, Technical Report 6 of the CONCOMP (Research in Conversational Use of Computers) Project, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  5. ^ a b c MICRO Information Management System (Version 5.0) Reference Manual, M.A. Kahn, D.L. Rumelhart, and B.L. Bronson, October 1977, Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations (ILIR), University of Michigan and Wayne State University
  6. ^ MICRO: A Relational Database Management System, Harry F. Clark, David E. Hetrick, Robert C. Bressan, July 1992, Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations (ILIR), University of Michigan, 451 pages, ISBN 9780877363507
  7. ^ Feasibility of a Labor Market Information System, Volume 3, Final Report for Period July 1, 1970-June 30, 1974, Malcolm S. Cohen, Labor Market Information System (LMIS) Project, Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations, University of Michigan, June 1974, 76 pages, PDF
  8. ^ "Chapter 6: MICRO" in Introduction to database management systems on MTS, Rick Rilio, User Guide Series, Computing Center, University of Michigan, March 1986, pages 147-189
  9. ^ "A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks", E.F. Codd, Communications of the ACM, volume 13, issue 6 (June 1970), pp. 77–387, doi= 10.1145/362384.362685
  10. ^ "Use of a Relational Database to Support Clinical Research: Application in a Diabetes Program", Diane Lomatch, M.P.H., Terry Truax, M.S., Peter Savage, M.D., Diabetes Center Unit, MDRTC, University of Michigan, 1981
  11. ^ Documentation for MIDAS, Daniel J. Fox and Kenneth E. Guire, Third Edition (September 1976), Statistical Research Laboratory, University of Michigan, 203 pp.
  12. ^ "Converting from Traditional File Structures to Database Management Systems: A Powerful Tool for Nursing Management", Yvonne Marie Abdoo, Ph.D., R.N, Wayne State University College of Nursing, 1987