Determining the currency of data
Faculty of Sciences. Mathematics and Computer Science
New York, N.Y.
ACM transactions on database systems. - New York, N.Y., 1976, currens
, p. 1-46
University of Antwerp
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.