, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 269-289
Date: 20 Nov 2007

Expressiveness of temporal query languages: on the modelling of intervals, interval relationships and states

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Abstract

Storing and retrieving time-related information are important, or even critical, tasks on many areas of computer science (CS) and in particular for artificial intelligence (AI). The expressive power of temporal databases/query languages has been studied from different perspectives, but the kind of temporal information they are able to store and retrieve is not always conveniently addressed. Here we assess a number of temporal query languages with respect to the modelling of time intervals, interval relationships and states, which can be thought of as the building blocks to represent and reason about a large and important class of historic information. To survey the facilities and issues which are particular to certain temporal query languages not only gives an idea about how useful they can be in particular contexts, but also gives an interesting insight in how these issues are, in many cases, ultimately inherent to the database paradigm. While in the area of AI declarative languages are usually the preferred choice, other areas of CS heavily rely on the extended relational paradigm. This paper, then, will be concerned with the representation of historic information in two well known temporal query languages: Templog in the context of temporal deductive databases, and TSQL2 in the context of temporal relational databases. We hope the results highlighted here will increase cross-fertilisation between different communities. This article can be related to recent publications drawing the attention towards the different approaches followed by the Databases and AI communities when using time-related concepts.