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Re: Can you query rdf:List easily? (WAS Re: update on vCard edits ?and The Compromise)

From: Benjamin Nowack <bnowack@appmosphere.com>
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 10:19:12 +0200
To: Garret Wilson <garret@globalmentor.com>, Harry Halpin <hhalpin@ibiblio.org>
Cc: Semantic Web <semantic-web@w3.org>
Message-ID: <PM-GA.20070730101912.2C68D.1.1D@mailout.appmosphere.com>

On 27.07.2007 23:47:33, Garret Wilson wrote:
>Harry Halpin wrote:
>> Is it indeed difficult or impossible to write a SPARQL query over
>> rdf:List, particulary with the use of owl:sameAs as in:
It's impossible to write a general SPARQL query to retrieve all
entries of an unknown rdf:List. The use of owl:sameAs doesn't really
have an additional effect on the complexity, though.

>> Can someone tell me precisely why and if so, does rdf:Seq help?
Containers don't form a deep path which has to be traversed. They
are just, well, containers. Members are at the same level/depth
which allows retrieving them with a single query pattern. I'll
re-paste my earlier query. It works for any number/length of 
container-based "additional-names":

   SELECT ?pos ?name WHERE {
       <#card4711> vcard:additional-names ?seq .
       ?seq       ?pos ?name .
   ORDER BY ?pos .

This is impossible for rdf:List. You need a different query for each
number of names, e.g. (assuming lists built w/o "parseType=Collection",
but with an explicit first+literal):

2 names:
   SELECT ?name1 ?name2 WHERE {
       <#card4711> vcard:additional-names ?list1 .
       ?list1      rdf:first ?name1 .
       ?list1      rdf:rest ?list2 .
       ?list2      rdf:first ?name2 .

3 names:
   SELECT ?name1 ?name2 ?name3 WHERE {
       <#card4711> vcard:additional-names ?list1 .
       ?list1      rdf:first ?name1 .
       ?list1      rdf:rest ?list2 .
       ?list2      rdf:first ?name2 .
       ?list2      rdf:rest ?list3 .
       ?list3      rdf:first ?name3 .

It *is* possible to construct a query that would work for,
say 1-5 additional names, but that would be a really ugly 
beast with nested OPTIONALs (which aren't supported by all
RDF stores and are slower than querying a simple container
that uses a single blank node instead of one for each branch).
The more practical approach is probably to iteratively
extend the query until you hit an rdf:nil or no additional


Benjamin Nowack
Received on Monday, 30 July 2007 08:19:32 UTC

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