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Hibernate Table per subclass: using a discriminator

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The argument here is:
"Hibernate's implementation of table per subclass does not require a discriminator column. Other object/relational mappers use a different implementation of table per subclass that requires a type discriminator column in the superclass table. The approach taken by Hibernate is much more difficult to implement, but arguably more correct from a relational point of view."

One of the things that hibernate would NOT be able to do, I suspect, is to intelligently create an instance of the appropriate subclass when the program only asks for an instance of the base class. This might be useful for some kind of look-ahead caching.

So how does hibernate handle this issue?
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