Databases today are carefully engineered: there is an expensive and deliberate design process, after which a database schema is defined; during this design process, various possible instance examples and use cases are hypothesized and carefully analyzed; finally, the schema is ready and then can be populated with data. All of this effort is a major barrier to database adoption.

In this paper, we explore the possibility of organic database creation instead of the traditional engineered approach. The idea is to let the user start storing data in a database with a schema that is just enough to cove the instances at hand. We then support efficient schema evolution as new data instances arrive. By designing the database to evolve, we can sidestep the expensive front-end cost of carefully engineering the design of the database.

The same set of issues also apply to database querying. Today, databases expect queries to be carefully specified, and to be valid with respect to the database schema. In contrast, the organic query specification model would allow users to construct queries incrementally, with little knowledge of the database. We also examine this problem in this paper.


Database System Query Language Database Schema Direct Manipulation Query Interface 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Abraham, R.: FoXQ - XQuery by forms. In: IEEE Symposium on Human Centric Computing Languages and Environments (2003)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Agrawal, S., Chaudhuri, S., Das, G.: DBXplorer: A System for Keyword-Based Search over Relational Databases. In: ICDE (2002)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Agrawal, S., Chaudhuri, S., Kollar, L., Marathe, A., Narasayya, V., Syamala, M.: Database Tuning Advisor for Microsoft SQL Server 2005. In: VLDB (2004)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Aiken, A., Chen, J., Stonebraker, M., Woodruff, A.: Tioga-2: A direct manipulation database visualization environment. In: ICDE, pp. 208–217 (1996)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Amer-Yahia, S., Lakshmanan, L.V.S., Pandit, S.: FleXPath: Flexible Structure and Full-Text Querying for XML. In: SIGMOD (2004)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Androutsopoulos, I., Ritchie, G., Thanisch, P.: Natural Language Interfaces to Databases–an introduction. Journal of Language Engineering 1(1), 29–81 (1995)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Balmin, A., Hristidis, V., Papakonstantinou, Y.: ObjectRank: Authority-Based Keyword Search in Databases. In: VLDB (2004)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bell, G., Gemmell, J.: A Digital Life (2007)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Benzi, F., Maio, D., Rizzi, S.: Visionary: A Viewpoint-based Visual Language for Querying Relational Databases. Journal of Visual Languages and Computing 10(2) (1999)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bhalotia, G., Hulgeri, A., Nakhe, C., Chakrabarti, S., Sudarshan, S.: Keyword Searching and Browsing in Databases using BANKS. In: ICDE (2002)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Biskup, J.: Achievements of Relational Database Schema Design Theory Revisited. In: Thalheim, B. (ed.) Semantics in Databases 1995. LNCS, vol. 1358, pp. 29–54. Springer, Heidelberg (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Biskup, J.: Achievements of Relational Database Schema Design Theory Revisited. In: Thalheim, B. (ed.) Semantics in Databases 1995. LNCS, vol. 1358, pp. 29–54. Springer, Heidelberg (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Braga, D., Campi, A., Ceri, S.: XQBE (XQuery By Example): A Visual Interface to the Standard XML Query Language. ACM Trans. Database Syst. 30(2) (2005)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Brown, A.B., Chung, L.C., Patterson, D.A.: Including the Human Factor in Dependability Benchmarks. In: DSN Workshop on Dependability Benchmarking (2002)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Butterworth, R., Blandford, A., Duke, D.: Using Formal Models to Explore Display-Based Usability Issues. Journal of Visual Languages and Computing 10(5) (1999)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Carmel, D., Maarek, Y.S., Mandelbrod, M., Mass, Y., Soffer, A.: Searching XML Documents via XML Fragments. In: SIGIR (2003)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ceaparu, I., Lazar, J., Bessiere, K., Robinson, J., Shneiderman, B.: Determining Causes and Severity of End-User Frustration. International Journal of Human Computer Interaction 17(3) (2004)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Chaudhuri, S., Weikum, G.: Rethinking Database System Architecture: Towards a Self-Tuning, RISC-style Database System. In: VLDB (2000)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Chen, Z., Li, T.: Addressing Diverse User Preferences in SQL-Query-Result Navigation. In: SIGMOD (2007)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Choobineh, J., Mannino, M.V., Tseng, V.P.: A Form-Based Approach for Database Analysis and Design. CACM 35(2) (1992)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Cohen, S., Kanza, Y., Kogan, Y., Sagiv, Y., Nutt, W., Serebrenik, A.: EquiX–A Search and Query Language for XML. JASIST 53(6) (2002)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Cohen, S., Mamou, J., Kanza, Y., Sagiv, Y.: XSEarch: A Semantic Search Engine for XML. In: VLDB (2003)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Date, C.J.: Database Usability. In: SIGMOD. ACM Press, New York (1983)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Dong, X., Halevy, A.: A Platform for Personal Information Management and Integration. In: CIDR (2005)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Doubleday, A., Ryan, M., Springett, M., Sutcliffe, A.: A Comparison of Usability Techniques for Evaluating Design. In: DIS (1997)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Embley, D.W.: NFQL: The Natural Forms Query Language. ACM Trans. Database Syst. (1989)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Erwig, M.: A Visual Language for XML. In: IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages,Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Goldman, R., Shivakumar, N., Venkatasubramanian, S., Garcia-Molina, H.: Proximity Search in Databases. In: VLDB (1998)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Guo, L., Shao, F., Botev, C., Shanmugasundaram, J.: XRANK: Ranked Keyword Search over XML Documents. In: SIGMOD (2003)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Hanrahan, P.: VizQL: A Language for Query, Analysis and Visualization. In: SIGMOD, pp. 721–721 (2006)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Hanrahan, P.: Vizql: a language for query, analysis and visualization. In: SIGMOD, p. 721 (2006)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Hara, C., Davidson, S.: Reasoning about nested functional dependencies. In: PODS (1999)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Haveliwala, T.: Topic-Sensitive PageRank: A Context-Sensitive Ranking Algorithm for Web Search. IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering 15(4), 784–796 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Hristidis, V., Papakonstantinou, Y.: DISCOVER: Keyword Search in Relational Databases. In: VLDB (2002)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Ioannidis, Y.E., Viglas, S.: Conversational Querying. Inf. Syst. 31(1), 33–56 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Jagadish, H.V., Chapman, A., Elkiss, A., Jayapandian, M., Li, Y., Nandi, A., Yu, C.: Making database systems usable. In: SIGMOD (2007)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Jankun-Kelly, T.J., Ma, K.-L.: A spreadsheet interface for visualization exploration. In: IEEE Visualization, pp. 69–76 (2000)Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Jayapandian, M., Jagadish, H.V.: Automating the Design and Construction of Query Forms. In: ICDE (2006)Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Jayapandian, M., Jagadish, H.V.: Automated creation of a forms-based database query interface. In: VLDB (2008)Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Jayapandian, M., Jagadish, H.V.: Expressive query specification through form customization. In: EDBT (2008)Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Jayram, T.S., Krishnamurthy, R., Raghavan, S., Vaithyanathan, S., Zhu, H.: Avatar Information Extraction System. IEEE Data Eng. Bull. 29(1), 40–48 (2006)Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Jeh, G., Widom, J.: Scaling Personalized Web Search. In: WWW, pp. 271–279 (2003)Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Kandel, S., Paepcke, A., Theobald, M., Garcia-Molina, H.: The photospread query language. Technical report, Stanford Univ. (2007)Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Kelley, J.F.: An Iterative Design Methodology for User-Friendly Natural Language Office Information Applications. ACM Trans. Database Syst. 2(1) (1984)Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Koutrika, G., Ioannidis, Y.: Personalization of Queries in Database Systems. In: ICDE (2004)Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Kuntz, M., Melchert, R.: Pasta-3’s graphical query language: Direct manipulation, cooperative queries, full expressive power. In: VLDB, pp. 97–105 (1989)Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Li, Y., Yang, H., Jagadish, H.V.: NaLIX: A Generic Natural Language Search Environment for XML Data. ACM Transactions on Database Systems-TODS 32(4) (2007)Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Li, Y., Yu, C., Jagadish, H.V.: Enabling Schema-Free XQuery with Meaningful Query Focus. VLDB Journal (in press)Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Lightstone, S., Lohman, G.M., Haas, P.J., et al.: Making DB2 Products Self-Managing: Strategies and Experiences. IEEE Data Eng. Bull. 29(3), 16–23 (2006)Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Liu, B., Jagadish, H.V.: A spreadsheet algebra for a direct data manipulation query interface. In: ICDE (2009)Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Madhavan, J., Jeffery, S., Cohen, S., Dong, X., Ko, D., Yu, C., Halevy, A.: Web-scale Data Integration: You Can Only Afford to Pay As You Go. In: CIDR (2007)Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Markl, V., Lohman, G.M., Raman, V.: LEO: An Autonomic Query Optimizer for DB2. IBM Systems Journal 42(1), 98–106 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Mitchell, K., Kennedy, J.: DRIVE: An Environment for the Organized Construction of User-Interfaces to Databases. In: Interfaces to Databases, IDS-3 (1996)Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Mukhopadhyay, P., Papakonstantinou, Y.: Mixing Querying and Navigation in MIX. In: ICDE (2002)Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Murray, N., Paton, N., Goble, C.: Kaleidoquery: A Visual Query Language for Object Databases. In: Advanced Visual Interfaces (1998)Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Nandi, A., Jagadish, H.V.: Assisted Querying using Instant-Response Interfaces. In: SIGMOD (2007)Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Nandi, A., Jagadish, H.V.: Qunits: queried units for database search. In: CIDR (2009)Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Olston, C., Woodruff, A., Aiken, A., Chu, M., Ercegovac, V., Lin, M., Spalding, M., Stonebraker, M.: Datasplash. In: SIGMOD, pp. 550–552 (1998)Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Papadomanolakis, E., Ailamaki, A.: Autopart: Automating schema design for large scientific databases using data partitioning. In: SSDBM (2004)Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Papakonstantinou, Y., Petropoulos, M., Vassalos, V.: QURSED: Querying and Reporting Semistructured Data. In: SIGMOD (2002)Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Popescu, A.-M., Etzioni, O., Kautz, H.A.: Towards a Theory of Natural Language Interfaces to Databases. In: IUI (2003)Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Qian, L., LeFevre, K., Jagadish, H.V.: Crius: User-friendly database design. PVLDB 4(2), 81–92 (2010)Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Raman, V., Hellerstein, J.M.: Potter’s wheel: An interactive data cleaning system. In: VLDB, pp. 381–390 (2001)Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Sabin, R.E., Yap, T.K.: Integrating Information Retrieval Techniques with Traditional DB Methods in a Web-Based Database Browser. In: SAC (1998)Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Sengupta, A., Dillon, A.: Query by Templates: A Generalized Approach for Visual Query Formulation for Text Dominated Databases. In: ADL (1997)Google Scholar
  66. 66.
    Sheneiderman, B.: Improving the Human Factors Aspect of Database Interactions. ACM Trans. Database Syst. 3(4) (1978)Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Shneiderman, B.: The future of interactive systems and the emergence of direct manipulation. Behaviour & Information Technology 1(3), 237–256 (1982)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Sinha, S., Bowers, K., Mamrak, S.A.: Accessing a Medical Database using WWW-Based User Interfaces. Technical report, Ohio State University (1998)Google Scholar
  69. 69.
    Soules, C., Shah, S., Ganger, G.R., Noble, B.D.: It’s Time to Bite the User Study Bullet. Technical report, University of Michigan (2007)Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    Spenke, M., Beilken, C.: A spreadsheet interface for logic programming. In: CHI, pp. 75–80 (1989)Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Spenke, M., Beilken, C., Berlage, T.: Focus: The interactive table for product comparison and selection. In: UIST, pp. 41–50 (1996)Google Scholar
  72. 72.
    Sutcliffe, A., Ryan, M., Doubleday, A., Springett, M.: Model Mismatch Analysis: Towards a Deeper Explanation of Users’ Usability Problems. Behavior & Information Technology 19(1) (2000)Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Tan, B., Peng, F.: Unsupervised query segmentation using generative language models and wikipedia. In: WWW (2008)Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    Wasserman, A.I.: User Software Engineering and the Design of Interactive Systems. In: ICSE. IEEE Press, Piscataway (1981)Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    Witkowski, A., Bellamkonda, S., Bozkaya, T., Dorman, G., Folkert, N., Gupta, A., Sheng, L., Subramanian, S.: Spreadsheets in rdbms for olap. In: SIGMOD (2003)Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    Wong, S.K.M., Butz, C.J., Xiang, Y.: Automated database schema design using mined data dependencies. Journal of the American Society for Information Science 49, 455–470 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. 77.
    Yu, C., Jagadish, H.V.: Querying Complex Structured Databases. In: VLDB (2007)Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    Yuan, W.: End-User Searching Behavior in Information Retrieval: A Longitudinal Study. JASIST 48(3) (1997)Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Zloof, M.M.: Query-by-Example: the Invocation and Definition of Tables and Forms. In: VLDB (1975)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. V. Jagadish
    • 1
  • Arnab Nandi
    • 1
  • Li Qian
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

Personalised recommendations