|A consistent query protocol allows a database owner to publish a very
short string c which commits her to a particular database D with
special consistency property (i.e., given c, every allowable query has
unique and well-defined answer with respect to D.) Moreover, when a
user makes a query, any server hosting the database can answer the
query, and provide a very short proof P that the answer is
well-defined, unique, and consistent with c (and hence with D). One
potential application of consistent query protocols is for
guaranteeing the consistency of many replicated copies of D---the
owner can publish c, and users can verify the consistency of a query
to some copy of D by making sure P is consistent with c. This strong
guarantee holds even for owners who try to cheat, while creating c.
The task of consistent query protocols was originally proposed for
membership queries by Micali and Rabin, and subsequently and
independently, by Kilian. In this setting a server can prove to a
client whether or not a given key is present or not in a database,
based only on a short public commitment c.
We strengthen their results in several ways. For membership queries,
we improve the communication complexity; more importantly, we provide
protocols for more general types of queries and more general
relational databases. For example, we consider databases in which
entries have several keys and where we allow range queries (e.g.
we allow a client to ask for all entries within a certain age range
and a certain salary range).
Towards this goal, we introduce query algorithms with certain inherent
robustness properties---called data-robust algorithms---and show how
this robustness can be achieved. In particular, we illustrate our
general technique by constructing an efficient data-robust algorithm
for proving consistency of orthogonal range queries (a particular case
of a ``join''query). The server's proof convinces the client not only
that all the matching entries provided are in D, but also that no
others are present. Our guarantees hold even if the answer is the
empty set. In the case of one-dimensional range queries we also show
a new data-hiding technique---called explicit hashing---which allows
us to a execute consistent query protocol P and at the same time
protect the privacy of all other information in the database
efficiently. In particular, we avoid the NP reductions required in a
generic zero-knowledge proof.