Example-Driven User Intent Discovery: Empowering Users to Cross the SQL Barrier Through Query by Example

12/29/2020
by   Anna Fariha, et al.
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Traditional data systems require specialized technical skills where users need to understand the data organization and write precise queries to access data. Therefore, novice users who lack technical expertise face hurdles in perusing and analyzing data. Existing tools assist in formulating queries through keyword search, query recommendation, and query auto-completion, but still require some technical expertise. An alternative method for accessing data is Query by Example (QBE), where users express their data exploration intent simply by providing examples of their intended data. We study a state-of-the-art QBE system called SQuID, and contrast it with traditional SQL querying. Our comparative user studies demonstrate that users with varying expertise are significantly more effective and efficient with SQuID than SQL. We find that SQuID eliminates the barriers in studying the database schema, formalizing task semantics, and writing syntactically correct SQL queries, and thus, substantially alleviates the need for technical expertise in data exploration.

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