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Reports (Research Report) Year : 2018

SQL Query Completion for Data Exploration

Marie Le Guilly
Jean-Marc Petit
Vasile-Marian Scuturici


Within the big data tsunami, relational databases and SQL are still there and remain mandatory in most of cases for accessing data. On the one hand, SQL is easy-to-use by non specialists and allows to identify pertinent initial data at the very beginning of the data exploration process. On the other hand, it is not always so easy to formulate SQL queries: nowadays, it is more and more frequent to have several databases available for one application domain, some of them with hundreds of tables and/or attributes. Identifying the pertinent conditions to select the desired data, or even identifying relevant attributes is far from trivial. To make it easier to write SQL queries, we propose the notion of SQL query completion: given a query, it suggests additional conditions to be added to its WHERE clause. This completion is semantic, as it relies on the data from the database, unlike current completion tools that are mostly syntactic. Since the process can be repeated over and over again – until the data analyst reaches her data of interest –, SQL query completion facilitates the exploration of databases. SQL query completion has been implemented in a SQL editor on top of a database management system. For the evaluation, two questions need to be studied: first, does the completion speed up the writing of SQL queries? Second , is the completion easily adopted by users? A thorough experiment has been conducted on a group of 70 computer science students divided in two groups (one with the completion and the other one without) to answer those questions. The results are positive and very promising.
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hal-01703346 , version 1 (07-02-2018)



Marie Le Guilly, Jean-Marc Petit, Vasile-Marian Scuturici. SQL Query Completion for Data Exploration. [Research Report] INSA Lyon. 2018. ⟨hal-01703346⟩
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