Querying the World Wide Web

Alberto O. Mendelzon, George A. Mihaila, Tova Milo

Alberto O. Mendelzon, George A. Mihaila, Tova Milo, Querying the World Wide Web, International Journal on Digital Libraries, 1(1):54-67, 1997.

The World Wide Web is a large, heterogeneous, distributed collection of documents connected by hypertext links. The most common technology currently used for searching the Web depends on sending information retrieval requests to "index servers" that index as many documents as they can find by navigating the network. One problem with this is that users must be aware of the various index servers (over a dozen of them are currently deployed on the Web), of their strengths and weaknesses, and of the peculiarities of their query interfaces. A more serious problem is that these queries cannot exploit the structure and topology of the document network. In this paper we propose a query language, WebSQL, that takes advantage of multiple index servers without requiring users to know about them, and that integrates textual retrieval with structure and topology-based queries. We give a formal semantics for WebSQL using a calculus based on a novel "virtual graph" model of a document network. We propose a new theory of query cost based on the idea of "query locality," that is, how much of the network must be visited to answer a particular query. We give an algorithm for characterizing WebSQL queries with respect to query locality. Finally, we describe a prototype implementation of WebSQL written in Java.


Keywords: WebSQL;


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