Interactive Query Formulation using Point to Point Queries

Henderik Alex Proper

Effective information disclosure in the context of databases with a large conceptual schema is known to be a non-trivial problem. In particular the formulation of ad-hoc queries is a major problem in such contexts. Existing approaches for tackling this problem include graphical query interfaces, query by navigation, and query by construction. In this article we propose the {\em point to point query mechanism} that can be combined with the existing mechanism into an unprecedented computer supported query formulation mechanism. In a point to point query a path through the information structure is build. This path can then be used to formulate more complex queries. A point to point query is typically useful when users know some object types which are relevant for their information need, but do not (yet) know how they are related in the conceptual schema. Part of the point to point query mechanism is therefore the selection of the most appropriate path between object types (points) in the conceptual schema. This article both discusses some of the pragmatic issues involved in the point to point query mechanism, and the theoretical issues involved in finding the relevant paths between selected object types.

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