Thursday, September 4, 2008

Is my cat CEP or not?

One of my favorite cinema artists is Mel Brooks, and one of the great films of Mel Brooks is known as "silent movie" (see flyer above). To those who don't know or don't remember, silent movie is a film about doing a silent movie, and most of the plot involves around Mel Brooks and his gang going to famous actors asking them to participate in a silent movie, they agree and this sums up their participation, since their voice is not heard; there is one exception - when asking the world famous mime Marcel Marceau to be in the film he replies, "Non", the only spoken word in the entire film, since he talked, he did not participate in the silent movie.

So here is my dilemma -- recently the blog-land is full of postings on the topic "is X CEP?" - personally I don't find that this debate leads anywhere, so my inclination is not to participate in this discussion, so I'll contribute my part by explaining why I don't find this discussion interesting.

There are different reasons why I don't find it interesting to spend time on these discussions are:

  1. I don't see that the results of this debate are important to the reality.

  2. One can debate terms forever - but this is not useful, there is a better way.

  3. This debate will not converge anyway, the same arguments are being repeated and it does not enrich the reader's intellect to read them again.

Let's start with the reality -- what the current vendors attempt to do is to build generic products that will enable to develop various sorts of applications in the area of event processing. This is different from the past, where event processing has been done in hard-wired, hand-coded, ad-hoc fashion to build a single application. While any single application may be challenging, the challenges in building generic products that will be a cost-effective alternative to hand-coding, are somewhat different from building ad-hoc applications. The content of these products is determined by several factors - not by the boundaries between "simple" and "complex" - there are multiple dimensions of complexity, and different applications may exhibit different type of complexity (functionality, topology, scalability, event types)... No matter where we'll put the border between the "simple" and "complex", a generic product will have to support both sides of the border. Bottom line -- the importance is ROI for the customers and not whether something is called "complex" or not.

Debate over terms: when we have done the first event processing symposium, in March 2006, the conference started by nine presentations about the "state of the art", and a very quick observation has been that each of us has invented his own set of terms. Consequently we have decided that the first community effort will be to produce a glossary edited by our non-vendor colleagues, to reduce bias. They have collected input from many sources with different opinions, sometimes strong opinions (it is amazing that people are so caring about terms). The glossary has been published recently and its announcement was endorsed by many people in the community. I am sure that nobody is happy about all terms, but as a compromise among all opinions, the editors have done a pretty good job.

Personally I don't have strong feeling towards terminology, so the glossary definition is a possible one, there are others as well, there is no absolute truth here, but - I think that is good to have a precise definition of terms that are accepted by large community vs. continue debating on terminology forever, even if I personally would have defined it otherwise. Among the possible interpretations, the editors chose to define CEP: Computing that performs operations on complex events, where complex event is defined as:An event that is an abstraction of other events called its members. As far as I am concerned, this is what CEP is.

Last but not least -- If somebody decides to insist on his own (different) definition of a term T, and judge everything according to this own definition, then obviously, if a term T have two different defintions, then X may be T according to one definition, and not T according to the other definition, when the two sides stick to their definitions, then no one will convince the other anyway, and arguments will still repeat themselves. Actually, I have not learned any new insight from this discussion. Have I mentioned that the arguments repeat themselves? in case that I have not done it , I'll mention that the arguments repeat themselves.

Bottom line -- is my cat CEP ? well - I don't have a cat(I wonder if Roger King who has written the famous article "my cat is object oriented" had a cat).

There are plenty of more useful topics to Blog about - so no more on that issue.

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