Archive for » November, 2010 «

Thursday, November 25th, 2010 | Author:

On November 25th, Riham Abdel Kader defended her thesis on her ROX-approach for run-time optimization of XQueries. Her work and thesis were well-received by the PhD committee. The ROX-approach brings more robustness to query optimizers in finding near-optimal execution plans and it can exploit intricate correlations in the data. Albeit meant for XML databases, the approach can be applied to ordinary relational databases as well RDF stores. Riham recently accepted a position at ASML. I am very proud of her and her work.
“ROX: Run-Time Optimization of XQueries”[download, OPAQUE project]
Query optimization is the most important and complex phase of answering a user query. While sufficient for some applications, the widely used type of relational optimizers are not always robust, picking execution plans that are far from optimal. This is due to several reasons. First, they depend on statistics and a cost model which are often inaccurate, and sometimes even absent. Second, they fail to detect correlations which can unexpectedly make certain plans considerably cheaper than others. Finally, they cannot efficiently handle the large search space of big queries.
The challenges faced by traditional relational optimizers and their impact on the quality of the chosen plans are aggravated in the context of XML and XQueries. This is due to the fact that in XML, it is harder to collect and maintain representative statistics since they have to capture more information about the document. Moreover, the search space of plans for an XQuery query is on average larger than that of relational queries, due to the higher number of joins resulting from the existence of many XPath steps in a typical XQuery.
To overcome the above challenges, we propose ROX, a Run-time Optimizer for XQueries. ROX is autonomous, i.e. it does not depend on any statistics and cost models, robust in always finding a good execution plan while detecting and benefiting from correlations, and efficient in exploring the search space of plans. We show, through experiments, that ROX is indeed robust and efficient, and performs better than relational compile-time optimizers. ROX adopts a fundamentally different internal design which moves the optimization to run-time, and interleaves it with query execution. The search space is efficiently explored by alternating optimization and execution phases, defining the plan incrementally. Every execution step executes a set of operators and materializes the results, allowing the next optimization phase to benefit from the knowledge extracted from the newly materialized intermediates. Sampling techniques are used to accurately estimate the cardinality and cost of operators. To detect correlations, we introduce the chain sampling technique, the first generic and robust method to deal with any type of correlated data. We also extend the ROX idea to pipelined architectures to allow most of the existing database systems to benefit from our research.