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Luciano Caroprese (DEIS Universitá della Calabria, Italy), Cristian Molinaro (DEIS Universitá della Calabria, Italy), Irina Trubitsyna (DEIS Universitá della Calabria, Italy) and Ester Zumpano (DEIS Universitá della Calabria, Italy)

Copyright: © 2009
|Pages: 5

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch112

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TopIntegrating data from different sources consists of two main steps, the first in which the various relations are merged together, and the second in which some tuples are *removed* (or *inserted*) from the resulting database in order to satisfy integrity constraints. There are several ways to integrate databases or possibly distributed information sources, but whatever integration architecture we choose, the heterogeneity of the sources to be integrated causes subtle problems. In particular, the database obtained from the integration process may be inconsistent with respect to integrity constraints, that is, one or more integrity constraints are not satisfied. Integrity constraints represent an important source of information about the real world. They are usually used to define constraints on data (functional dependencies, inclusion dependencies, etc.) and have, nowadays, a wide applicability in several contexts such as semantic query optimization, cooperative query answering, database integration, and view update.

Since the satisfaction of integrity constraints cannot generally be guaranteed, if the database is obtained from the integration of different information sources, in the evaluation of queries, we must compute answers that are consistent with the integrity constraints. The following example shows a case of inconsistency.

**Example 1:** Consider the following database schema consisting of the single binary relation *Teaches (Course, Professor)* where the attribute *Course* is a key for the relation. Assume there are two different instances for the relations *Teaches*, D1={(c1,p1),(c2,p2)} and D2={(c1,p1),(c2,p3)}. The two instances satisfy the constraint that *Course* is a key, but from their union we derive a relation that does not satisfy the constraint since there are two distinct tuples with the same value for the attribute *Course*.

In the integration of two conflicting databases simple solutions could be based on the definition of preference criteria such as a partial order on the source information or a majority criterion (Lin & Mendelzon, 1996). However, these solutions are not generally satisfactory, and more useful solutions are those based on (1) the computation of “repairs” for the database, and (2) the computation of consistent answers (Arenas, Bertossi, & Chomicki, 1999).

The computation of repairs is based on the definition of minimal sets of insertion and deletion operations so that the resulting database satisfies all constraints. The computation of consistent answers is based on the identification of tuples satisfying integrity constraints and on the selection of tuples matching the goal. For instance, for the integrated database of *Example 1*, we have two alternative repairs consisting in the deletion of one of the tuples *(c2,p2)* and *(c2,p3)*. The consistent answer to a query over the relation *Teaches* contains the unique tuple *(c1,p1)* so that we do not know which professor teaches course *c2*. Therefore, it is very important, in the presence of inconsistent data, not only to compute the set of consistent answers, but also to know which facts are unknown and if there are possible repairs for the database.

Several proposals considering the integration of databases as well as the computation of queries over inconsistent databases have been provided in the literature (Agarwal, Keller, Wiederhold, & Saraswat, 1995; Arenas et al., 1999; Arenas, Bertossi, & Chomicki, 2000; Bry, 1997; Dung, 1996; Greco & Zumpano, 2000; Lin, 1996; Lin & Mendelzon, 1996; Lembo, Lenzerini, & Rosati, 2002; Lenzerini, 2002; Wijsen, 2003). Most of the techniques for computing queries over inconsistent databases work for restricted cases, and only recently have there been proposals to consider more general constraints. This section provides an informal description of the main techniques proposed in the literature.

Integrity Constraints: A set of constraints that must be satisfied by database instances.

Database Repair: Minimal set of insert and delete operations that makes the database consistent.

Inconsistent Database: A database violating some integrity constraints.

Disjunctive Datalog Program: A set of rules of the form, A 1 ?… ? A k ? B 1 , ..., B m , not B m+1 , …,not B n , k+m+n>0 , where A 1 ,…, A k , B 1 ,…, B n are atoms of the form p(t 1 ,..., t h ) , p is a predicate symbol of arity h , and the terms t 1 ,..., t h are constants or variables.

Consistent Answer: A set of tuples, derived from the database, satisfying all integrity constraints.

Consistent Database: A database satisfying a set of integrity constraints.

Data Integration: A process providing a uniform integrated access to multiple heterogeneous information sources.

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