Distributed Subweb Specifications for Traversing the Web

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In Theory and Practice of Logic Programming (2023)

Link Traversal–based Query Processing (LTQP), in which a SPARQL query is evaluated over a web of documents rather than a single dataset, is often seen as a theoretically interesting yet impractical technique. However, in a time where the hypercentralization of data has increasingly come under scrutiny, a decentralized Web of Data with a simple document-based interface is appealing, as it enables data publishers to control their data and access rights. While ltqp allows evaluating complex queries over such webs, it suffers from performance issues (due to the high number of documents containing data) as well as information quality concerns (due to the many sources providing such documents). In existing LTQP approaches, the burden of finding sources to query is entirely in the hands of the data consumer. In this paper, we argue that to solve these issues, data publishers should also be able to suggest sources of interest and guide the data consumer towards relevant and trustworthy data. We introduce a theoretical framework that enables such guided link traversal and study its properties. We illustrate with a theoretic example that this can improve query results and reduce the number of network requests. We evaluate our proposal experimentally on a virtual linked web with specifications and indeed observe that not just the data quality but also the efficiency of querying improves.