A survey of parallel execution strategies for transitive closure and logic programs

F. Cacace, S. Ceri, M.A.W. Houtsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
79 Downloads (Pure)


An important feature of database technology of the nineties is the use of parallelism for speeding up the execution of complex queries. This technology is being tested in several experimental database architectures and a few commercial systems for conventional select-project-join queries. In particular, hash-based fragmentation is used to distribute data to disks under the control of different processors in order to perform selections and joins in parallel. With the development of new query languages, and in particular with the definition of transitive closure queries and of more general logic programming queries, the new dimension of recursion has been added to query processing. Recursive queries are complex; at the same time, their regular structure is particularly suited for parallel execution, and parallelism may give a high efficiency gain. We survey the approaches to parallel execution of recursive queries that have been presented in the recent literature. We observe that research on parallel execution of recursive queries is separated into two distinct subareas, one focused on the transitive closure of Relational Algebra expressions, the other one focused on optimization of more general Datalog queries. Though the subareas seem radically different because of the approach and formalism used, they have many common features. This is not surprising, because most typical Datalog queries can be solved by means of the transitive closure of simple algebraic expressions. We first analyze the relationship between the transitive closure of expressions in Relational Algebra and Datalog programs. We then review sequential methods for evaluating transitive closure, distinguishing iterative and direct methods. We address the parallelization of these methods, by discussing various forms of parallelization. Data fragmentation plays an important role in obtaining parallel execution; we describe hash-based and semantic fragmentation. Finally, we consider Datalog queries, and present general methods for parallel rule execution; we recognize the similarities between these methods and the methods reviewed previously, when the former are applied to linear Datalog queries. We also provide a quantitative analysis that shows the impact of the initial data distribution on the performance of methods.
Original languageUndefined
Article number10.1007/BF01264013
Pages (from-to)337-382
Number of pages46
JournalDistributed and parallel databases
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1993


  • IR-66231
  • EWI-6260

Cite this