Taming the Infinite Chase: Query Answering under Expressive Relational Constraints

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The chase algorithm is a fundamental tool for query evaluation and for testing query containment under tuple-generating dependencies (TGDs) and equality-generating dependencies (EGDs). So far, most of the research on this topic has focused on cases where the chase procedure terminates. This paper introduces expressive classes of TGDs defined via syntactic restrictions: guarded TGDs (GTGDs) and weakly guarded sets of TGDs (WGTGDs). For these classes, the chase procedure is not guaranteed to terminate and thus may have an infinite outcome. Nevertheless, we prove that the problems of conjunctive-query answering and query containment under such TGDs are decidable. We provide decision procedures and tight complexity bounds for these problems. Then we show how EGDs can be incorporated into our results by providing conditions under which EGDs do not harmfully interact with TGDs and do not affect the decidability and complexity of query answering. We show applications of the aforesaid classes of constraints to the problem of answering conjunctive queries in F-Logic Lite, an object-oriented ontology language, and in some tractable Description Logics.

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