Additive First-Order Queries

Authors Gerald Berger, Martin Otto, Andreas Pieris, Dimitri Surinx, Jan Van den Bussche

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Author Details

Gerald Berger
  • TU Wien, Austria
Martin Otto
  • TU Darmstadt, Germany
Andreas Pieris
  • University of Edinburgh, Scotland
Dimitri Surinx
  • Hasselt University, Belgium
Jan Van den Bussche
  • Hasselt University, Belgium

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Gerald Berger, Martin Otto, Andreas Pieris, Dimitri Surinx, and Jan Van den Bussche. Additive First-Order Queries. In 22nd International Conference on Database Theory (ICDT 2019). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 127, pp. 19:1-19:14, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2019)


A database query q is called additive if q(A U B) = q(A) U q(B) for domain-disjoint input databases A and B. Additivity allows the computation of the query result to be parallelised over the connected components of the input database. We define the "connected formulas" as a syntactic fragment of first-order logic, and show that a first-order query is additive if and only if it expressible by a connected formula. This characterisation specializes to the guarded fragment of first-order logic. We also show that additivity is decidable for formulas of the guarded fragment, establish the computational complexity, and do the same for positive-existential formulas. Our results hold when restricting attention to finite structures, as is common in database theory, but also hold in the unrestricted setting.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Information systems → Query languages
  • Expressive power


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