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On Verifying Consistency of XML Specifications

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

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Twenty-first ACM SIGACT-SIGMOD-SIGART Symposium on Principles of Database Systems, June 3-5, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2002


XML specifications often consist of a type definition (typically, a DTD) and a set of integrity constraints. It has been shown previously that such specifications can be inconsistent, and thus it is often desirable to check consistency at compile-time. It is known that for general keys and foreign keys, and DTDs, the consistency problem is undecidable; however, it becomes NP-complete when all keys are one-attribute (unary), and tractable, if no foreign keys are used.In this paper, we consider a variety of constraints for XML data, and study the complexity of the consistency problem. Our main conclusion is that in the presence of foreign keys, compile-time verification of consistency is usually infeasible. We look at two types of constraints: absolute (that hold in the entire document), and relative (that only hold in a part of the document). For absolute constraints, we extend earlier decidability results to the case of multi-attribute keys and unary foreign keys, and to the case of constraints involving regular expressions, providing lower and upper bounds in both cases. For relative constraints, we show that even for unary constraints, the consistency problem is undecidable. We also establish a number of restricted decidable cases.

ID: 19849545