A complex organization with many tasks and sub-tasks, many phases, and many workers often will have an associated database with many users and groups, each of whom has a limited “need to know” (e.g. fine-grained security access controls) that does not extend to all information in the database. A group of users having access to information in a particular portion of the database may need to edit one or more documents to restate the original information more conveniently or accurately.

What is needed is a database system that provides selective access to different portions of the database for different groups of users, where the different groups have partly overlapping access group memberships. The system should be flexible and allow for change in definition of the portions of the database accessible by a specified access group.

This work provides selective access to as many as 2N – 1 (or 2N) mutually exclusive portions of a database by different subgroups of N users. One or more members of an access subgroup can edit a document or other information collection, to which the members have access simultaneously. Members of a given access subgroup can be assigned different numerical priorities so that, as between first and second users in the subgroup, editing of a document by the first user will subsequently be reviewed, declined, partly entered, or wholly entered by the second user.

This work was done by David A. Maluf and Yuri O. Gawdiak of Ames Research Center.

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NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the July, 2015 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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