The article "Profiling relational data: a survey" by Ziawasch Abedjan (MIT), Lukasz Golab (University of Waterloo) and Felix Naumann (HPI) was accepted for publication the VLDB Journal and is available online.
Profiling data to determine metadata about a given dataset is an important and frequent activity of any IT professional and researcher and is necessary for various use-cases. It encompasses a vast array of methods to examine datasets and produce metadata. Among the simpler results are statistics, such as the number of null values and distinct values in a column, its data type, or the most frequent patterns of its data values. Metadata that are more difficult to compute involve multiple columns, namely correlations, unique column combinations, functional dependencies, and inclusion dependencies. Further techniques detect conditional properties of the dataset at hand. This survey provides a classification of data profiling tasks and comprehensively reviews the state of the art for each class. In addition, we review data profiling tools and systems from research and industry. We conclude with an outlook on the future of data profiling beyond traditional profiling tasks and beyond relational databases.