Need to Tame the Information Tsunamis in Databases? DbSurfer May Be Your Deviled Egg

June 2, 2021

An interesting article “DbSurfer: A Search and Navigation Tool for Relational Databases” describes a novel way to locate information in Codd databases. Nope, I won’t make a reference to codfish. The surfing metaphor is good enough today.

The write up states:

We present a new application for keyword search within relational databases, which uses a novel algorithm to solve the join discovery problem by finding Memex-like trails through the graph of foreign key dependencies. It differs from previous efforts in the algorithms used, in the presentation mechanism and in the use of primary-key only database queries at query-time to maintain a fast response for users.

The Memex reference is not to the mostly forgotten Australian search and retrieval system. The Memex in this paper is a nod to everyone’s information hero Vannevar Bush’s fanciful “memex device.” (No, Google is not a memex device.)

The method involves “joins” and “tails.” The result is a system that allows keyword search and navigation through relational databases.

The paper includes a useful list of references. (Some recent computer science graduates who are billing themselves as search experts might find reading a few of the citations helpful. Just a friendly suggestion to the AI, NLP, and semantic whiz types.)

Is this a product? Nope, not yet. Interesting idea, however.

Stephen E Arnold, June 2, 2021


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