July 5, 2011

SPARQL: a flexible querying language.

Posted in Databases, software testing at 5:19 pm by mknight1130

As I have been using SQL to query databases, I have wondered about alternatives to query among multiple data sets. Is there a more intuitive way to retrieve information that is not so tied down to a particular meaning of a field? Say I was looking for a new mobile phone and wished to query different vendors for the best price. Do I search for “cellphone”, “cell phone” “mobile phone”, “mobile device” , or “phone” ? All these terms can refer to a cell phone. It would be much easier if I could query one term and results close to the meaning of the first term would also appear. I would then get what I meant by the search. SPARQL is a query language that has such power.  SPARQL is a language that accesses  RDF or resource description framework in order to retrieve closer search results from a graph of possible meanings and pattern matching. As I am investigating this language, I have found several resources that I would like to share.

The W3, or World Wide Web Consortium 3,  provides an excellent SPARQL technical document and recommendations at Query Language for RDF ( http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-sparql-query/) . The W3 is a group of web experts, pioneers, and interested contributors that develop web standards . The group is well regarded and is used as a reference upon developing web pages. This technical document starts by introducing SPARQL, giving some sample queries, providing details on the syntax, constraints, and defining the testing framework.

For the newbie,  XML.com provides a down to earth introduction in XML.com: Introducing SPARQL: Querying the Semantic Web http://www.xml.com/lpt/a/2005/11/16/introducing-sparql-querying-semantic-web-tutorial.html .   XML.com is a resource published by O’Reilly, a publisher of technical training materials.  The article talks about main points associated with SPARQL, simple queryies, other querying forms such as construct, describe and ask. The article describes the background needed to understand SPARQL, the context, tools and how to use patterns.

SPARQL is receiving attention from developers. Microsoft is looking for ways to implement this robust query language. See SPARQL-DL( http://academic.research.microsoft.com/Publication/5476728/sparql-dl-implementation-experience ) . This language is also making its way into the clinical space see Zynx Health Incorporated (http://www.zynxhealth.com and https://trak.baiworks.com/application/jobdescription.aspx?q=leSEDqZdwZ4gKo4Ayjbxnfq6W3IaFJTL4ysCRnjIn8wgDur%2fwJfrM72BIrQ5%2b2NeybHA4dEkh0U%3d). SPARQL has promise to query a wide range of information and bring back better matches in search results. The next time I look for a mobile phone or do any complex query, I may just use SPARQL.


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