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Olteanu, Dan (2005): Evaluation of XPath Queries against XML Streams. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics
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Abstract

XML is nowadays the de facto standard for electronic data interchange on the Web. Available XML data ranges from small Web pages to ever-growing repositories of, e.g., biological and astronomical data, and even to rapidly changing and possibly unbounded streams, as used in Web data integration and publish-subscribe systems. Animated by the ubiquity of XML data, the basic task of XML querying is becoming of great theoretical and practical importance. The last years witnessed efforts as well from practitioners, as also from theoreticians towards defining an appropriate XML query language. At the core of this common effort has been identified a navigational approach for information localization in XML data, comprised in a practical and simple query language called XPath. This work brings together the two aforementioned ``worlds'', i.e., the XPath query evaluation and the XML data streams, and shows as well theoretical as also practical relevance of this fusion. Its relevance can not be subsumed by traditional database management systems, because the latter are not designed for rapid and continuous loading of individual data items, and do not directly support the continuous queries that are typical for stream applications. The first central contribution of this work consists in the definition and the theoretical investigation of three term rewriting systems to rewrite queries with reverse predicates, like parent or ancestor, into equivalent forward queries, i.e., queries without reverse predicates. Our rewriting approach is vital to the evaluation of queries with reverse predicates against unbounded XML streams, because neither the storage of past fragments of the stream, nor several stream traversals, as required by the evaluation of reverse predicates, are affordable. Beyond their declared main purpose of providing equivalences between queries with reverse predicates and forward queries, the applications of our rewriting systems shed light on other query language properties, like the expressivity of some of its fragments, the query minimization, or even the complexity of query evaluation. For example, using these systems, one can rewrite any graph query into an equivalent forward forest query. The second main contribution consists in a streamed and progressive evaluation strategy of forward queries against XML streams. The evaluation is specified using compositions of so-called stream processing functions, and is implemented using networks of deterministic pushdown transducers. The complexity of this evaluation strategy is polynomial in both the query and the data sizes for forward forest queries and even for a large fragment of graph queries. The third central contribution consists in two real monitoring applications that use directly the results of this work: the monitoring of processes running on UNIX computers, and a system for providing graphically real-time traffic and travel information, as broadcasted within ubiquitous radio signals.