Image Number 6 for United States Patent #6477534.
A method for generating an approximate answer to a query in a database environment in which the database has a plurality of base relations. A query relating to a database is received, and an approximate answer to the query is generated such that the approximate answer is based on at least one join synopsis formed from the database. The method further includes steps of forming a sample-tuple set for at least one selected base relation of a plurality of base relations of a database such that each sample-tuple set contains at least one sample tuple from a corresponding base relation, and forming a join synopsis set for each selected base relation such that each join synopsis set contains a join synopsis for each sample tuple in a sample-tuple set. A join synopsis of a sample tuple is based on a join of the sample tuple and at least one descendent relation of the sample tuple. All join synopsis sets form a statistical summary of the database and are stored.