An early vision in Computer Science was to create intelligent systems capable of reasoning on large amounts of data. Independent results in the areas of Semantic Web and Relational Databases have advanced us towards this vision. Despite independent advances, the interface between Relational Databases and Semantic Web is poorly understood. This dissertation revisits this early vision with respect to current technology and addresses the following question: How and to what extent can Relational Databases be integrated with the Semantic Web? The thesis is that much of the existing Relational Database infrastructure can be reused to support the Semantic Web. Two problems are studied.
Can a Relational Database be automatically virtualized as a Semantic Web data source? The first contribution is an automatic direct mapping from a Relational Database schema and data to RDF and OWL. The second contribution is a method capable of evaluating SPARQL queries against the Relational Database by exploiting two existing relational query optimizations. These contributions are embodied in the Ultrawrap system. Experiments show that SPARQL query execution performance on Ultrawrap is comparable to that of SQL queries written directly for the relational data. Such results have not been previously achieved.
Can a Relational Database be mapped to existing Semantic Web ontologies and act as a reasoner? A third contribution is a method for Relational Databases to support inheritance and transitivity by compiling the ontology as mappings, implementing the mappings as views, using SQL recursion and optimizing by materializing views. Ultrawrap is extended with this contribution. Empirical analysis reveals that Relational Databases are able to effectively act as reasoners.