Computer Science Department
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


Distance Exponent:
A New Concept for Selectivity Estimation in Metric Trees

Caetano Traina, Jr.*, Agma J.M. Traina*, Christos Faloutsos

March 1999

Currently Unavailable Electronically

Keywords: Query selectivity estimation, metric spaces, range queries, index structure, metric structures

17 pages

We discuss the problem of selectivity estimation for range queries in real metric datasets, which include spatial, or dimensional, datasets as a special case. The main contribution of this paper is that, surprisingly, many diverse datasets follow a "power law". This is the first analysis of distance distributions for metric datasets.

We named the exponent of our power law as the "Distance Exponent". We show that it plays an important role for the analysis of real, metric datasets. Specifically, we show (a) how to use it to derive formulas for selectivity estimation of range queries and (b) how to measure it quickly from a metric index tree (like an M-tree).

We do experiments on many real datasets (road intersections of U.S. counties, vectors characteristics extracted from face matching systems, distance matrixes) and synthetic datasets (Sierpinsky triangle and 2-dimensional line). The experiments show that our selectivity estimation formulas are accurate, always being within one standard deviation from the measurements. Moreover, that our algorithm to estimate the "distance exponent" gives less than 20% error, while it saves orders of magnitude in computation time.

17 pages

*Currently on leave at Carnegie Mellon University from Mathematics and Computer Science Institute, University of Sao Paulo at S. Carlos, 13560-970 Sao Carlos, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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