Algorithm for consistent query answering under primary key constraints

Speaker: Anantha Padmanabha, ENS Ulm.

Tuesday May 10 2022, 11:00, (salle 1Z76 ENS Paris-Saclay and online)

Abstract: Databases often have constraints. However, these days it is common to have databases that violate such constraints. Such a database is called an “inconsistent database”. One of the basic constraints is the “primary key constraint” which states there can be at most one tuple for every primary key. If a database violates primary key constraint, it will contain more than one tuple for the same primary key. In this setting, the notion of a repair is defined by picking exactly one tuple for each primary key (maximal consistent subset of the database). A Boolean conjunctive query q, is certain for an inconsistent database D if q evaluates to true over all repairs of D. In this context, we have a dichotomy conjecture that states that for a fixed boolean conjunctive query q, testing whether q is certain for an input database D is either polynomial time or coNP-complete.

The conjecture is open in general, but has been verified for self-join-free and path queries. However, the polynomial time algorithms known in the literature are complex and use different strategies in the two cases. We propose a simple inflationary fixpoint algorithm for consistent query answering which correctly computes certain answers when the query q falls in the polynomial time cases for self-join-free queries and path queries. This raises a natural question, whether this algorithm works for all polynomial time cases. We answer this negatively and show that there are polynomial time certain queries (with self-joins) which cannot be computed by such an algorithm.

This is a joint ongoing work with Diego Figueira, Luc Segoufin and Cristina Sirangelo.