Detecting changes in XML documents

Grégory Cobéna, Serge Abiteboul, Amélie Marian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

284 Scopus citations


We present a diff algorithm for XML data. This work is motivated by the support for change control in the context of the Xyleme project that is investigating dynamic warehouses capable of storing massive volume of XML data. Because of the context, our algorithm has to be very efficient in terms of speed and memory space even at the cost of some loss of “quality”. Also, it considers, besides insertions, deletions and updates (standard in diffs), a move operation on subtrees that is essential in the context of XML. Intuitively, our diff algorithm uses signatures to match (large) subtrees that were left unchanged between the old and new versions. Such exact matchings are then possibly propagated to ancestors and descendants to obtain more matchings. It also uses XML specific information such as ID attributes. We provide a performance analysis of the algorithm. We show that it runs in average in linear time vs. quadratic time for previous algorithms. We present experiments on synthetic data that confirm the analysis. Since this problem is NP-hard, the linear time is obtained by trading some quality. We present experiments (again on synthetic data) that show that the output of our algorithm is reasonably close to the “optimal" in terms of quality. Finally we present experiments on a small sample of XML pages found on the Web.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-52
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings - International Conference on Data Engineering
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Information Systems


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