This article is from the Object-Oriented Technology FAQ, by Bob Hathaway firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
[Iris is a system out of HP Labs that began as a prototype and eventually
became a commercial product. I believe it was eventually incorporated into
the new HP product, OpenODB. - clamen]
Long and short system summaries can be found in:
[FISH89] D.H. Fishman et. al. Overview of the Iris DBMS. In Won.
Kim and Frederick H. Lochovsky, editors,
Object-Oriented Concepts, Databases and Applications,
chapter 10, pages 219--250. Addison-Wesley, Reading,
[FBC+87] D.H. Fishman, D. Beech, H.P. Cate, E.C. Chow,
T. Connors, J.W. Davis, N. Derrett, C.G. Hock, W. Kent,
P. Lyngbaek, B. Mahbod, M.A. Neimat, T.A. Tyan, and
M.C. Shan. Iris: An object-oriented database
management system. ACM Transactions on Office
Information Systems, 5(1):48--69, January 1987.
The abstract of the latter (written early in the project) follows:
The Iris database management system is a research prototype of
a next-generation database management system intended to meet
the needs of new and emerging database applications, including
office automation and knowledge-based systems, engineering
test and measurement, and hardware and software design. Iris
is exploring a rich set of new database capabilities required
by these applications, including rich data-modeling
constructs, direct database support for inference, novel and
extensible data types, for example to support graphic images,
voice, text, vectors, and matrices, support for long
transactions spanning minutes to many days, and multiple
versions of data. These capabilities are, in addition to the
usual support for permanence of data, controlled sharing,
backup and recovery.
The Iris DBMS consists of (1) a query processor that
implements the Iris object-oriented data model, (2) a
Relational Storage Subsystem (RSS) -like storage manager that
provides access paths and concurrency control, backup and
recovery, and (3) a collection of programmatic and interactive
interfaces. The data model supports high-level structural
abstractions, such as classification, generalization, and
aggregation, as well as behavioral abstractions. The
interfaces to Iris include an object-oriented extension to
On Schema Evolution (from original survey):
Objects in the Iris system may acquire or lose types dynamically.
Thus, if an object no longer matches a changed definition, the user
can choose to remove the type from the object instead of modifying the
object to match the type. In general, Iris tends to restrict class
modifications so that object modifications are not necessary. For
example, a class cannot be removed unless it has no instances and new
supertype-subtype relationships cannot be established.