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Query Processing in DBMS

Query Processing is the activity performed in extracting data from the database. In query processing, it takes various steps for fetching the data from the database. The steps involved are:

  1. Parsing and translation
  2. Optimization
  3. Evaluation

The query processing works in the following way:

Parsing and Translation

As query processing includes certain activities for data retrieval. Initially, the given user queries get translated in high-level database languages such as SQL. It gets translated into expressions that can be further used at the physical level of the file system. After this, the actual evaluation of the queries and a variety of query -optimizing transformations and takes place. Thus before processing a query, a computer system needs to translate the query into a human-readable and understandable language. Consequently, SQL or Structured Query Language is the best suitable choice for humans. But, it is not perfectly suitable for the internal representation of the query to the system. Relational algebra is well suited for the internal representation of a query. The translation process in query processing is similar to the parser of a query. When a user executes any query, for generating the internal form of the query, the parser in the system checks the syntax of the query, verifies the name of the relation in the database, the tuple, and finally the required attribute value. The parser creates a tree of the query, known as 'parse-tree.' Further, translate it into the form of relational algebra. With this, it evenly replaces all the use of the views when used in the query.

Thus, we can understand the working of a query processing in the below-described diagram:

Query Processing in DBMS

Suppose a user executes a query. As we have learned that there are various methods of extracting the data from the database. In SQL, a user wants to fetch the records of the employees whose salary is greater than or equal to 10000. For doing this, the following query is undertaken:

select emp_name from Employee where salary>10000;

Thus, to make the system understand the user query, it needs to be translated in the form of relational algebra. We can bring this query in the relational algebra form as:

  • σsalary>10000salary (Employee))
  • πsalarysalary>10000 (Employee))

After translating the given query, we can execute each relational algebra operation by using different algorithms. So, in this way, a query processing begins its working.


For this, with addition to the relational algebra translation, it is required to annotate the translated relational algebra expression with the instructions used for specifying and evaluating each operation. Thus, after translating the user query, the system executes a query evaluation plan.

Query Evaluation Plan

  • In order to fully evaluate a query, the system needs to construct a query evaluation plan.
  • The annotations in the evaluation plan may refer to the algorithms to be used for the particular index or the specific operations.
  • Such relational algebra with annotations is referred to as Evaluation Primitives. The evaluation primitives carry the instructions needed for the evaluation of the operation.
  • Thus, a query evaluation plan defines a sequence of primitive operations used for evaluating a query. The query evaluation plan is also referred to as the query execution plan.
  • A query execution engine is responsible for generating the output of the given query. It takes the query execution plan, executes it, and finally makes the output for the user query.


  • The cost of the query evaluation can vary for different types of queries. Although the system is responsible for constructing the evaluation plan, the user does need not to write their query efficiently.
  • Usually, a database system generates an efficient query evaluation plan, which minimizes its cost. This type of task performed by the database system and is known as Query Optimization.
  • For optimizing a query, the query optimizer should have an estimated cost analysis of each operation. It is because the overall operation cost depends on the memory allocations to several operations, execution costs, and so on.

Finally, after selecting an evaluation plan, the system evaluates the query and produces the output of the query.

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