We study this problem: Given a relational query, is it possible to provide a simple and generic "representative" instance that (1) illustrates how the query can be satisfied, (2) summarizes all specific instances that would satisfy the query in the same way by abstracting away unnecessary details? Furthermore, is it possible to find a collection of such representative instances that together completely characterize all possible ways in which the query can be satisfied? This work takes initial steps towards answering these questions. We design what these representative instances look like, define what they stand for, and formalize what it means for them to satisfy a query in "all possible ways." We argue that this problem is undecidable for general domain relational calculus queries, and develop practical algorithms for computing a minimum collection of such instances subject to other constraints. We evaluate the efficiency of our approach experimentally, and show its effectiveness in helping users debug relational queries through a user study.

This talk is based on a SIGMOD’22 paper with Amir Gilad, Zhengjie Miao, and Jun Yang, full version: https://arxiv.org/abs/2202.11160


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