I am doing more extensive work with supertyping and subtyping as it solves some problems in a very useful way. In particular, I am enhancing a web application where many things need to be subject to security—pages, reports, actions, menus, and so on—and supertyping all these in a single Securable table is going to make security a breeze.

But some of these tables also have normal hierarchical parent-child relationships, and I'm having trouble with some naming aspects. I'm asking this question to invite you all to weigh in. Maybe we can come up with some terms that would be useful to the db community at large.

Here is my first stab at names for the various parts. Blanks mean I haven't thought of anything. It may not be necessary to name them all. I also may have blurred the lines between a nodal tree and a parent-child database relation, however at this point I think the concepts coincide very well. The second subtype column is just to list alternate reasonable names.

            Super/       Super/
Hierarchy   Subtyping    Subtyping(2)
----------  -----------  ------------
Ancestry    Ascendancy   
Root        Base         Seed
Parent      Supertype    Source
Child       Subtype      Extension
Sibling     Cotype       Fellow
Ancestor    Superior       
Descendant  Subordinate
Leaf        Ultimate
Height      Distance
Generation  Instance

The question: what do you think are the best names for the supertype/subtype pattern to match all the given terms for the hierarchy pattern? Critique on the names I chose for hierarchy are welcome, too.

  • Someone said he thinks this is overcomplicating things. Why?
    – ErikE
    Aug 17, 2012 at 0:37


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