Topics in Database Systems: Query Processing for Non-traditional Applications

CS 848, Waterloo, Spring '14

  Instructor:   David Toman (
  Lectures:     Thu 9:30-12:20 DC 3313
  Office:       DC 3344, x34777
  Class Info:


The paradigm of ontology-based data access (OBDA) has recently emerged as an exciting application of knowledge representation and reasoning technologies in information systems. In a nutshell, the underlying idea is to facilitate high-level access to data by separating the user from the raw data using an ontology that provides a user-oriented "semantic" view of the data and makes it accessible via queries formulated solely in the language of the ontology without any knowledge of the actual structure of the data (this property is commonly called "physical data independence" in database literature).

The lectures will present an overview of current approaches to OBDA and study the similarities (and differences) between OBDA and various approaches to logical and physical design in the relational model. In particular the lectures will focus on showing how advanced knowledge representation techniques accompanied by powerful reasoning algorithms and strategies yield a novel approach to the problem of answering queries formulated over a conceptual (logical) representation of knowledge by "compiling" them to efficient algorithms operating over a physical representation of the knowledge (i.e., over a choice of particular data structures). Such an approach allows applying KR technology in non-traditional settings, such as main-memory databases and embedded systems, settings in which our solutions must be competitive with hand-crafted C code in performance.


Fundamentals of Physical Design and Query Compilation, David Toman and Grant Weddell, Synthesis Lectures on Data Management, M. Tamer Özsu, Series Editor, Morgan and Claypool Publishers.

You can get an electronic (pdf) copy of the textbook here for free (while on UW campus network), or a hard-copy if you prefer from Amazon.

Class Schedule and Outlines: