In descriptive complexity, a query is a mapping from structures of one signature to structures of another vocabulary. Neil Immerman, in his book "Descriptive Complexity", "use[s] the concept of query as the fundamental paradigm of computation" (p. 17).
Given signatures and , we define the set of structures on each language, and . A query is then any mapping
Computational complexity theory can then be phrased in terms of the power of the mathematical logic necessary to express a given query.
A query is order-independent if the ordering of objects in the structure does not affect the results of the query. In databases, these queries correspond to generic queries (Immerman 1999, p. 18). A query is order-independent iff for any isomorphic structures and .
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