On Equivalence and Cores for Incomplete Databases in Open and Closed Worlds

Authors Henrik Forssell, Evgeny Kharlamov, Evgenij Thorstensen

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Author Details

Henrik Forssell
  • University of Oslo, Norway
  • University of South East Norway, Drammen, Norway
Evgeny Kharlamov
  • Bosch Center for Artificial Intelligence, Renningen, Germany
  • University of Oslo, Norway
Evgenij Thorstensen
  • University of Oslo, Norway

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Henrik Forssell, Evgeny Kharlamov, and Evgenij Thorstensen. On Equivalence and Cores for Incomplete Databases in Open and Closed Worlds. In 23rd International Conference on Database Theory (ICDT 2020). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 155, pp. 10:1-10:21, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2020)


Data exchange heavily relies on the notion of incomplete database instances. Several semantics for such instances have been proposed and include open (OWA), closed (CWA), and open-closed (OCWA) world. For all these semantics important questions are: whether one incomplete instance semantically implies another; when two are semantically equivalent; and whether a smaller or smallest semantically equivalent instance exists. For OWA and CWA these questions are fully answered. For several variants of OCWA, however, they remain open. In this work we adress these questions for Closed Powerset semantics and the OCWA semantics of [Leonid Libkin and Cristina Sirangelo, 2011]. We define a new OCWA semantics, called OCWA*, in terms of homomorphic covers that subsumes both semantics, and characterize semantic implication and equivalence in terms of such covers. This characterization yields a guess-and-check algorithm to decide equivalence, and shows that the problem is NP-complete. For the minimization problem we show that for several common notions of minimality there is in general no unique minimal equivalent instance for Closed Powerset semantics, and consequently not for the more expressive OCWA* either. However, for Closed Powerset semantics we show that one can find, for any incomplete database, a unique finite set of its subinstances which are subinstances (up to renaming of nulls) of all instances semantically equivalent to the original incomplete one. We study properties of this set, and extend the analysis to OCWA*.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Incomplete, inconsistent, and uncertain databases
  • Theory of computation
  • Incomplete Databases
  • Cores
  • Semantics
  • Open and Closed Worlds


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