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Relational Queries Computable in Polynomial Time
 Information and Control
, 1986
"... We characterize the polynomial time computable queries as those expressible in relational calculus plus a least fixed point operator and a total ordering on the universe. We also show that even without the ordering one application of fixed point suffices to express any query expressible with several ..."
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Cited by 300 (17 self)
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We characterize the polynomial time computable queries as those expressible in relational calculus plus a least fixed point operator and a total ordering on the universe. We also show that even without the ordering one application of fixed point suffices to express any query expressible with several alternations of fixed point and negation. This proves that the fixed point query hierarchy suggested by Chandra and Harel collapses at the first fixed point level. It is also a general result showing that in finite model theory one application of fixed point suffices. Introduction and Summary Query languages for relational databases have received considerable attention. In 1972 Codd showed that two natural languages for queries  one algebraic and the other a version of first order predicate calculus  have identical powers of expressibility, [Cod72]. Query languages which are as expressive as Codd's Relational Calculus are sometimes called complete. This term is misleading however becau...
Languages That Capture Complexity Classes
 SIAM Journal of Computing
, 1987
"... this paper a series of languages adequate for expressing exactly those properties checkable in a series of computational complexity classes. For example, we show that a property of graphs (respectively groups, binary strings, etc.) is in polynomial time if and only if it is expressible in the first ..."
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Cited by 242 (21 self)
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this paper a series of languages adequate for expressing exactly those properties checkable in a series of computational complexity classes. For example, we show that a property of graphs (respectively groups, binary strings, etc.) is in polynomial time if and only if it is expressible in the first order language of graphs (respectively groups, binary strings, etc.) together with a least fixed point operator. As another example, a property is in logspace if and only if it is expressible in first order logic together with a deterministic transitive closure operator. The roots of our approach to complexity theory go back to 1974 when Fagin showed that the NP properties are exactly those expressible in second order existential sentences. It follows that second order logic expresses exactly those properties which are in the polynomial time hierarchy. We show that adding suitable transitive closure operators to second order logic results in languages capturing polynomial space and exponential time, respectively. The existence of such natural languages for each important complexity class sheds a new light on complexity theory. These languages reaffirm the importance of the complexity classes as much more than machine dependent issues. Furthermore a whole new approach is suggested. Upper bounds (algorithms) can be produced by expressing the property of interest in one of our languages. Lower bounds may be demonstrated by showing that such expression is impossible.
An optimal lower bound on the number of variables for graph identification
 Combinatorica
, 1992
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Describing Graphs: a FirstOrder Approach to Graph Canonization
, 1990
"... In this paper we ask the question, "What must be added to firstorder logic plus leastfixed point to obtain exactly the polynomialtime properties of unordered graphs?" We consider the languages Lk consisting of firstorder logic restricted to k variables and Ck consisting of Lk plus ..."
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Cited by 66 (7 self)
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In this paper we ask the question, "What must be added to firstorder logic plus leastfixed point to obtain exactly the polynomialtime properties of unordered graphs?" We consider the languages Lk consisting of firstorder logic restricted to k variables and Ck consisting of Lk plus "counting quantifiers". We give efficient canonization algorithms for graphs characterized by Ck or Lk . It follows from known results that all trees and almost all graphs are characterized by C2 .
Conditional XPath
 ACM Trans. Database Syst
, 2005
"... Abstract. XPath 1.0 is a variable free language designed to specify paths between nodes in XML documents. Such paths can alternatively be specified in firstorder logic. The logical abstraction of XPath 1.0, usually called Navigational or Core XPath, is not powerful enough to express every firstord ..."
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Cited by 55 (5 self)
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Abstract. XPath 1.0 is a variable free language designed to specify paths between nodes in XML documents. Such paths can alternatively be specified in firstorder logic. The logical abstraction of XPath 1.0, usually called Navigational or Core XPath, is not powerful enough to express every firstorder definable path. In this paper we show that there exists a natural expansion of Core XPath in which every firstorder definable path in XML document trees is expressible. This expansion is called Conditional XPath. It contains additional axis relations of the form (child::n[F])+, denoting the transitive closure of the path expressed by child::n[F]. The difference with XPath’s descendant::n[F] is that the path (child::n[F])+ is conditional on the fact that all nodes in between should be labeled by n and should make the predicate F true. This result can be viewed as the XPath analogue of the expressive completeness of the relational algebra with respect to firstorder logic. 1
Languages which capture complexity classes
 SIAM J. on Computing
, 1987
"... We present in this paper a series of languages adequate for expressing exactly those properties checkable in a series of computational complexity classes. For example, we show that a graph property is in polynomial time if and only if it is ..."
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Cited by 55 (5 self)
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We present in this paper a series of languages adequate for expressing exactly those properties checkable in a series of computational complexity classes. For example, we show that a graph property is in polynomial time if and only if it is
Conditional XPath, the first order complete XPath dialect
, 2004
"... XPath is the W3Cstandard node addressing language for XML documents. XPath is still under development and its technical aspects are intensively studied. What is missing at present is a clear characterization of the expressive power of XPath, be it either semantical or with reference to some well e ..."
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Cited by 52 (5 self)
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XPath is the W3Cstandard node addressing language for XML documents. XPath is still under development and its technical aspects are intensively studied. What is missing at present is a clear characterization of the expressive power of XPath, be it either semantical or with reference to some well established existing (logical) formalism. Core XPath (the logical core of XPath 1.0 defined by Gottlob et al.) cannot express queries with conditional paths as exemplified by "do a child step, while test is true at the resulting node." In a firstorder complete extension of Core XPath, such queries are expressible. We add conditional axis relations to Core XPath and show that the resulting language, called conditional XPath, is equally expressive as firstorder logic when interpreted on ordered trees. Both the result, the extended XPath language, and the proof are closely related to temporal logic. Specifically, while Core XPath may be viewed as a simple temporal logic, conditional XPath extends this with (counterparts of) the since and until operators.
Descriptive and Computational Complexity
 COMPUTATIONAL COMPLEXITY THEORY, PROC. SYMP. APPLIED MATH
, 1989
"... Computational complexity began with the natural physical notions of time and space. Given a property, S, an important issue is the computational complexity of checking whether or not an input satisfies S. For a long time, the notion of complexity referred to the time or space used in the computatio ..."
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Cited by 48 (0 self)
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Computational complexity began with the natural physical notions of time and space. Given a property, S, an important issue is the computational complexity of checking whether or not an input satisfies S. For a long time, the notion of complexity referred to the time or space used in the computation. A mathematician might ask, "What is the complexity of expressing the property S?" It should not be surprising that these two questions  that of checking and that of expressing  are related. However it is startling how closely tied they are when the second question refers to expressing the property in firstorder logic. Many complexity classes originally defined in terms of time or space resources have precise definitions as classes in firstorder logic. In 1974 Fagin gave a characterization of nondeterministic polynomial time (NP) as the set of properties expressible in secondorder existential logic
Over Words, Two Variables Are as Powerful as One Quantifier Alternation: FO²=Sigma_2\cap Pi_2
, 1998
"... . We show a property of strings is expressible in the twovariable fragment of firstorder logic if and only if it is expressible by both a \Sigma 2 and a \Pi 2 sentence. We thereby establish: UTL = FO 2 = \Sigma 2 " \Pi 2 = UL ; where UTL stands for the string properties expressible in the t ..."
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Cited by 47 (9 self)
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. We show a property of strings is expressible in the twovariable fragment of firstorder logic if and only if it is expressible by both a \Sigma 2 and a \Pi 2 sentence. We thereby establish: UTL = FO 2 = \Sigma 2 " \Pi 2 = UL ; where UTL stands for the string properties expressible in the temporal logic with `eventually in the future' and `eventually in the past' as the only temporal operators and UL stands for the class of unambiguous languages. This enables us to show that the problem of determining whether or not a given temporal string property belongs to UTL is decidable (in exponential space), which settles a hitherto open problem. Our proof of \Sigma 2 " \Pi 2 = FO 2 involves a new combinatorial characterization of these two classes and introduces a new method of playing EhrenfeuchtFraiss'e games to verify identities in semigroups. While the number of variables required to express a certain graph property in firstorder logic is an important measure for the descriptional...
Linear Time Computable Problems and FirstOrder Descriptions
, 1996
"... this article is a proof that each FO problem can be solved in linear time if only relational structures of bounded degree are considered. The basic idea of the proof is a localization technique based on a method that was originally developed by Hanf (Hanf 1965) to show that the elementary theories o ..."
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Cited by 37 (1 self)
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this article is a proof that each FO problem can be solved in linear time if only relational structures of bounded degree are considered. The basic idea of the proof is a localization technique based on a method that was originally developed by Hanf (Hanf 1965) to show that the elementary theories of two structures are equal under certain conditions, i.e., that two structures agree on all firstorder sentences. Fagin, Stockmeyer and Vardi (Fagin et al. 1993) developed a variant of this technique, which is applicable in descriptive complexity theory to classes of finite relational structures of uniformly bounded degree. Variants of this result can also be found in Gaifman (1982) (see also Thomas (1991)). The essential content of this result, which is also called the HanfSphere Lemma, is that two relational structures of bounded degree satisfy the same firstorder sentences of a certain quantifierrank if both contain, up to a certain number m, the same number of isomorphism types of substructures of a bounded radius r. In addition, a technique of model interpretability from Rabin (1965) (see also Arnborg et al. (1991), Seese (1992), Compton and Henson (1987) and Baudisch et al. (1982)) is adapted to descriptive complexity classes, and proved to be useful for reducing the case of an arbitrary class of relational structures to a class of structures consisting only of the domain and one binary irreflexive and symmetric relation, i.e., the class of simple graphs. It is shown that the class of simple graphs is lintimeuniversal with respect to firstorder logic, which shows that many problems on descriptive complexity classes, described in languages extending firstorder logic for arbitrary structures, can be reduced to problems on simple graphs. This paper is organized as f...