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# Containment of Regular Path Queries Under Path Constraints

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## Acknowledgements

We thank anonymous reviewers and Diego Figueira for their useful comments and Pierre Bourhis and Lily Gallois for fruitful discussions.

## Cite As

Sylvain Salvati and Sophie Tison. Containment of Regular Path Queries Under Path Constraints. In 27th International Conference on Database Theory (ICDT 2024). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 290, pp. 17:1-17:19, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2024)
https://doi.org/10.4230/LIPIcs.ICDT.2024.17

## Abstract

Data integrity is ensured by expressing constraints it should satisfy. One can also view constraints as data properties and take advantage of them for several tasks such as reasoning about data or accelerating query processing. In the context of graph databases, simple constraints can be expressed by means of path constraints while simple queries are modeled as regular path queries (RPQs). In this paper, we investigate the containment of RPQs under path constraints. We focus on word constraints that can be viewed as tuple-generating dependencies (TGDs) of the form ∀x_1,x_2, ∃y⁻, a_1(x_1,y_1) ∧ ... ∧ a_i(y_{i-1},y_i) ∧ ... ∧ a_n(y_{n-1},x_2) ⟶ ∃z⁻, b_1(x_1,z_1) ∧ ... ∧ b_i(z_{i-1},z_i) ∧ ... ∧ b_m(z_{m-1},x_2). Such a constraint means that whenever two nodes in a graph are connected by a path labeled a_1 … a_n, there is also a path labeled b_1 … b_m that connects them. Rewrite systems offer an abstract view of these TGDs: the rewrite rule a_1 … a_n → b_1 … b_m represents the previous constraint. A set of constraints 𝒞 is then represented by a rewrite system R and, when dealing with possibly infinite databases, a path query p is contained in a path query q under the constraints 𝒞 iff p rewrites to q with R. Contrary to what has been claimed in the literature we show that, when restricting to finite databases only, there are cases where a path query p is contained in a path query q under the constraints 𝒞 while p does not rewrite to q with R. More generally, we study the finite controllability of the containment of RPQs under word constraints, that is when this containment problem on unrestricted databases does coincide with the finite case. We give an exact characterisation of the cases where this equivalence holds. We then deduce the undecidability of the containment problem in the finite case even when RPQs are restricted to word queries. We prove several properties related to finite controllability, and in particular that it is undecidable. We also exhibit some classes of word constraints that ensure the finite controllability and the decidability of the containment problem.

## Subject Classification

##### ACM Subject Classification
• Theory of computation → Database constraints theory
• Theory of computation → Rewrite systems
• Theory of computation → Regular languages
• Theory of computation → Grammars and context-free languages
• Theory of computation → Database theory
##### Keywords
• Graph databases
• rational path queries
• query containment
• TGDs
• word constraints
• rewrite systems
• finite controllability
• decision problems

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