A query language and optimization techniques for unstructured data

Peter Buneman, Susan Davidson, Gerd Hillebrand, Dan Suciu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


A new kind of data model has recently emerged in which the database is not constrained by a conventional schema. Systems like ACeDB, which has become very popular with biologists, and the recent Tsimmis proposal for data integration organize data in tree-like structures whose components can be used equally well to represent sets and tuples. Such structures allow great flexibility y in data representation.What query language is appropriate for such structures? Here we propose a simple language UnQL for querying data organized as a rooted, edge-labeled graph. In this model, relational data may be represented as fixed-depth trees, and on such trees UnQL is equivalent to the relational algebra. The novelty of UnQL consists in its programming constructs for arbitrarily deep data and for cyclic structures. While strictly more powerful than query languages with path expressions like XSQL, UnQL can still be efficiently evaluated. We describe new optimization techniques for the deep or "vertical" dimension of UnQL queries. Furthermore, we show that known optimization techniques for operators on flat relations apply to the "horizontal" dimension of UnQL.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSIGMOD '96 Proceedings of the 1996 ACM SIGMOD international conference on Management of data
PublisherACM Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)0-89791-794-4
Publication statusPublished - 1996


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