I gave an invited talk ("Virtuoso 7 - Column Store and Adaptive Techniques for Graph" (Slides (ppt))) at the Graph Data Management Workshop at ICDE 2012.

Bryan Thompson of Systap (Bigdata® RDF store) was also invited, so we got to talk about our common interests. He told me about two cool things they have recently done, namely introducing tables to SPARQL, and adding a way of reifying statements that does not rely on extra columns. The table business is just about being able to store a multicolumn result set into a named persistent entity for subsequent processing. But this amounts to a SQL table, so the relational model has been re-arrived at, once more, from practical considerations. The reification just packs all the fields of a triple (or quad) into a single string and this string is then used as an RDF S or O (Subject or Object), less frequently a P or G (Predicate or Graph). This works because Bigdata® has variable length fields in all columns of the triple/quad table. The query notation then accepts a function-looking thing in a triple pattern to mark reification. Nice. Virtuoso has a variable length column in only the O but could of course have one in also S and even in P and G. The column store would still compress the same as long as reified values did not occur. These values on the other hand would be unlikely to compress very well but run length and dictionary would always work.

So, we could do it like Bigdata®, or we could add a "quad ID" column to one of the indices, to give a reification ID to quads. Again no penalty in a column store, if you do not access the column. Or we could make an extra table of PSOG->R.

Yet another variation would be to make the SPOG concatenation a literal that is interned in the RDF literal table, and then used as any literal would be in the O, and as an IRI in a special range when occurring as S. The relative merits depend on how often something will be reified and on whether one wishes to SELECT based on parts of reification. Whichever the case may be, the idea of a function-looking placeholder for a reification is a nice one and we should make a compatible syntax if we do special provenance/reification support. The model in the RDF reification vocabulary is a non-starter and a thing to discredit the sem web for anyone from database.

I heard from Bryan that the new W3 RDF WG had declared provenance out of scope, unfortunately. The word on the street on the other hand is that provenance is increasingly found to be an issue. This is confirmed by the active work of the W3 Provenance Working Group.