Determining the Currency of Data

Wenfei Fan, Floris Geerts, Jef Wijsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Data in real-life databases become obsolete rapidly. One often finds that multiple values of the same entity reside in a database. While all of these values were once correct, most of them may have become stale and inaccurate. Worse still, the values often do not carry reliable timestamps. With this comes the need for studying data currency, to identify the current value of an entity in a database and to answer queries with the current values, in the absence of reliable timestamps.

This article investigates the currency of data. (1) We propose a model that specifies partial currency orders in terms of simple constraints. The model also allows us to express what values are copied from other data sources, bearing currency orders in those sources, in terms of copy functions defined on correlated attributes. (2) We study fundamental problems for data currency, to determine whether a specification is consistent, whether a value is more current than another, and whether a query answer is certain no matter how partial currency orders are completed. (3) Moreover, we identify several problems associated with copy functions, to decide whether a copy function imports sufficient current data to answer a query, whether a copy function can be extended to import necessary current data for a query while respecting the constraints, and whether it suffices to copy data of a bounded size. (4) We establish upper and lower bounds of these problems, all matching, for combined complexity and data complexity, and for a variety of query languages. We also identify special cases that warrant lower complexity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number25
Number of pages46
JournalACM Transactions on Database Systems
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Currency
  • data quality


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