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This paper introduces a reflective extension of the relational algebra. Reflection is achieved by storing and manipulating relational algebra programs as relations and by adding a LISP-like evaluation operation to the algebra. We first show that this extension, which we call the reflective algebra, can serve as a unifying formalization of various forms of procedural data management which have been considered in database systems research. We then study the expressive power and complexity of thedoi:10.1006/jcss.1996.0040 fatcat:mr2juh4h4rcv3gor6ot6amefgm