Logical definability and query languages over ranked and unranked trees

Michael Benedikt, Leonid Libkin, Frank Neven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We study relations on trees defined by first-order constraints over a vocabulary that includes the tree extension relation T ≺ T′ (holding if and only if every branch of T extends to a branch of T′), unary node-tests, and a binary relation checking whether the domains of two trees are equal. We consider both ranked and unranked trees. These are trees with and without a restriction on the number of children of nodes. We adopt the model-theoretic approach to tree relations and study relations definable over the structure consisting of the set of all trees and the aforementioned predicates. We relate definability of sets and relations of trees to computability by tree automata. We show that some natural restrictions correspond to familiar logics in the more classical setting where every tree is a structure over a fixed vocabulary, and to logics studied in the context of XML pattern languages. We then look at relational calculi over collections of trees, and obtain quantifier-restriction results that give us bounds on the expressive power and complexity. As unrestricted relational calculi can express problems that are complete for each level of the polynomial hierarchy, we look at their restrictions, corresponding to the restricted logics over the family of all unranked trees, and find several calculi with low (NC1) data complexity which still express properties important for database and document applications. We also give normal forms for safe queries in the calculus.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11
Number of pages62
JournalACM Transactions on Computer Systems
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007

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