Scalable discovery of unique column combinations

Arvid Heise, Jorge Arnulfo Quiané-Ruiz, Ziawasch Abedjan, Anja Jentzsch, Felix Naumann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Citations (Scopus)


The discovery of all unique (and non-unique) column combinations in a given dataset is at the core of any data profiling effort. The results are useful for a large number of areas of data management, such as anomaly detection, data integration, data modeling, duplicate detection, indexing, and query optimization. However, discovering all unique and non-unique column combinations is an NP-hard problem, which in principle requires to verify an exponential number of column combinations for uniqueness on all data values. Thus, achieving effciency and scalability in this context is a tremendous challenge by itself. In this paper, we devise Ducc, a scalable and effcient approach to the problem of finding all unique and non-unique column combinations in big datasets. We first model the problem as a graph coloring problem and analyze the pruning effect of individual combinations. We then present our hybrid column-based pruning technique, which traverses the lattice in a depth-first and random walk combination. This strategy allows Ducc to typically depend on the solution set size and hence to prune large swaths of the lattice. Ducc also incorporates row-based pruning to run uniqueness checks in just few milliseconds. To achieve even higher scalability, Ducc runs on several CPU cores (scale-up) and compute nodes (scale-out) with a very low overhead. We exhaustively evaluate Ducc using three datasets (two real and one synthetic) with several millions rows and hundreds of attributes. We compare Ducc with related work: Gordian and HCA. The results show that Ducc is up to more than 2 orders of magnitude faster than Gordian and HCA (631x faster than Gordian and 398x faster than HCA). Finally, a series of scalability experiments shows the effciency of Ducc to scale up and out.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-312
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the VLDB Endowment
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science(all)

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