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XPath satisfiability in the presence of DTDs

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Original languageEnglish
Article number8
Number of pages79
JournalJournal of the ACM
Volume55
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2008

Abstract

We study the satisfiability problem associated with XPath in the presence of DTDs. This is the problem of determining, given a query p in an XPath fragment and a DTD D, whether or not there exists an XML document T such that T conforms to D and the answer of p on T is nonempty. We consider a variety of XPath fragments widely used in practice, and investigate the impact of different XPath operators on the satisfiability analysis. We first study the problem for negation-free XPath fragments with and without upward axes, recursion and data-value joins, identifying which factors lead to tractability and which to NP-completeness. We then turn to fragments with negation but without data values, establishing lower and upper bounds in the absence and in the presence of upward modalities and recursion. We show that with negation the complexity ranges from PSPACE to EXPTIME. Moreover, when both data values and negation are in place, we find that the complexity ranges from NEXPTIME to undecidable. Furthermore, we give a finer analysis of the problem for particular classes of DTDs, exploring the impact of various DTD constructs, identifying tractable cases, as well as providing the complexity in the query size alone. Finally, we investigate the problem for XPath fragments with sibling axes, exploring the impact of horizontal modalities on the satisfiability analysis

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