SIGMOD Record (ACM Special Interest Group on Management of Data)

A general technique for querying XML documents using a relational database system

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There has been recent interest in using relational database systems to store and query XML documents. Each of the techniques proposed in this context works by (a) creating tables for the purpose of storing XML documents (also called relational schema generation), (b) storing XML documents by shredding them into rows in the created tables, and (c) converting queries over XML documents into SQL queries over the created tables. Since relational schema generation is a physical database design issue - dependent on factors such as the nature of the data, the query workload and availability of schemas - there have been many techniques proposed for this purpose. Currently, each relational schema generation technique requires its own query processor to efficiently convert queries over XML documents into SQL queries over the created tables. In this paper, we present an efficient technique whereby the same query-processor can be used for all such relational schema generation techniques. This greatly simplifies the task of relational schema generation by eliminating the need to write a special-purpose query processor for each new solution to the problem. In addition, our proposed technique enables users to query seamlessly across relational data and XML documents. This provides users with unified access to both relational and XML data without them having to deal with separate databases.