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Furche, Tim (2008): Implementation of Web Query Languages Reconsidered: Beyond Tree and Single-Language Algebras at (almost) No Cost. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics
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Abstract

Visions of the next generation Web such as the "Semantic Web" or the "Web 2.0" have triggered the emergence of a multitude of data formats. These formats have different characteristics as far as the shape of data is concerned (for example tree- vs. graph-shaped). They are accompanied by a puzzlingly large number of query languages each limited to one data format. Thus, a key feature of the Web, namely to make it possible to access anything published by anyone, is compromised. This thesis is devoted to versatile query languages capable of accessing data in a variety of Web formats. The issue is addressed from three angles: language design, common, yet uniform semantics, and common, yet uniform evaluation. % Thus it is divided in three parts: First, we consider the query language Xcerpt as an example of the advocated class of versatile Web query languages. Using this concrete exemplar allows us to clarify and discuss the vision of versatility in detail. Second, a number of query languages, XPath, XQuery, SPARQL, and Xcerpt, are translated into a common intermediary language, CIQLog. This language has a purely logical semantics, which makes it easily amenable to optimizations. As a side effect, this provides the, to the best of our knowledge, first logical semantics for XQuery and SPARQL. It is a very useful tool for understanding the commonalities and differences of the considered languages. Third, the intermediate logical language is translated into a query algebra, CIQCAG. The core feature of CIQCAG is that it scales from tree- to graph-shaped data and queries without efficiency losses when tree-data and -queries are considered: it is shown that, in these cases, optimal complexities are achieved. CIQCAG is also shown to evaluate each of the aforementioned query languages with a complexity at least as good as the best known evaluation methods so far. For example, navigational XPath is evaluated with space complexity O(q d) and time complexity O(q n) where q is the query size, n the data size, and d the depth of the (tree-shaped) data. CIQCAG is further shown to provide linear time and space evaluation of tree-shaped queries for a larger class of graph-shaped data than any method previously proposed. This larger class of graph-shaped data, called continuous-image graphs, short CIGs, is introduced for the first time in this thesis. A (directed) graph is a CIG if its nodes can be totally ordered in such a manner that, for this order, the children of any node form a continuous interval. CIQCAG achieves these properties by employing a novel data structure, called sequence map, that allows an efficient evaluation of tree-shaped queries, or of tree-shaped cores of graph-shaped queries on any graph-shaped data. While being ideally suited to trees and CIGs, the data structure gracefully degrades to unrestricted graphs. It yields a remarkably efficient evaluation on graph-shaped data that only a few edges prevent from being trees or CIGs.