Decidability and Undecidability Results for the Termination Problem of Active Database Rules

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Active database systems enhance the functionality of traditional databases through the use of active rules or ‘triggers’. One of the principal questions for such systems is that of termination - is it possible for the rules to recursively activate one another indefinitely, given an initial triggering event. In this paper, we study the decidability of the termination problem, our aim being to delimit the boundary between the decidable and the undecidable. We present two families of rule languages, the one literal languages where each update is permitted to have just one atom in its body, and the unary languages where only unary relations may be updated, but higher arity relations may be accessed through views, Within each of these, we identify members close to the boundary of (un)decidability. Our context is similar to the while query language and the dynamics gives an interesting contrast to Datalog with negation; our results shed insights on the power of triggers as well as comparison of the termination problem to boundedness and query containment.


Presented at the Proceedings of the Seventeenth ACM SIGACT-SIGMOD-SIGART Symposium on Principles of Database Systems, Seattle, WA, June 1-3, 1998.



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