Twelfth Annual IEEE Symposium on

Logic in Computer Science (LICS 1997)

Paper: On the Forms of Locality over Finite Models (at LICS 1997)

Authors: Leonid Libkin


Most proofs showing limitations of expressive power of first-order logic rely on Ehrenfeucht-Fraisse games. Playing the game often involves a nontrivial combinatorial argument, so it was proposed to find easier tools for proving expressivity bounds. Most of those known for first-order logic are based on its "locality", that is defined in different ways. In this paper we characterize the relationship between those notions of locality. We note that Gaifman's locality theorem gives rise to two notions: one deals with sentences and one with open formulae. We prove that the former implies Hanf's notion of locality, which in turn implies Gaifman's locality for open formulae. Each of these implies the bounded degree property, which is one of the easiest tools for proving expressivity bounds. These results apply beyond the first-order case. We use them to derive expressivity bounds for first-order logic with unary quantifiers and counting. Finally, we apply these results to relational database languages with aggregate functions, and prove that purely relational queries defined in such languages satisfy Gaifman's notion of locality. From this we derive a number of expressivity bounds for languages with aggregates.


    author = 	 {Leonid Libkin},
    title = 	 {On the Forms of Locality over Finite Models},
    booktitle =  {Proceedings of the Twelfth Annual IEEE Symp. on Logic in Computer Science, {LICS} 1997},
    year =	 1997,
    editor =	 {Glynn Winskel},
    month =	 {June}, 
    pages =      {204--215},
    location =   {Warsaw, Poland}, 
    publisher =	 {IEEE Computer Society Press}