Saturday, March 28, 2009

What the event processing discipline can learn from other disciplines ?

This is a picture of the Bahai Gardens, one of the famous sites in my home-city Haifa, the Bahai religion is an interesting one, more modern than most religions (I myself am agnostic and do not practice any religion, so this is not meant to be an endorsement), the Bahai people see Haifa as one of their holy sites and invest a lot in the city, this week they have a major celebration. I have returned to Haifa after my short trip abroad, in which I have given four times the same talk about "event processing - the next generation" (I'll post in on the web soon). One of the discussion points have been what can the event processing discipline (complex or not) learn from other disciplines that succeeded. Coming from a database background, it is always interesting to me to make a comparison there. When relational databases started to become products in the early 1980-ies, I have been a database practitioner with experience in several DBMS products, and in the beginning I looked at the relational model without much respect, it seemed to me to be over-simplification that gives up semantics and creates a lot of anomalies. However, the simplicity has been the main benefit. The relational model has won, and also created a big research community around it that concentrated forces around a single model and developed query optimizations, more semantic abstractions on top of it and some other stuff. The fact that there has been a substantial brain power dedicated towards a single direction was a contribution to success. The fact that was not a critical mass of work around object-based databases contributed to the fact that its success has been modest. What can we learn from that in the "event processing" discipline ? We need to strive to find the formal model that will be the basis for concentrating the community around. The model is not extension to the relational model, since this extension will loose the main benefit of the relational model -- simplicity. There are several relational algebras around, but all of them do not meet the simplicity criterion, on the contrary -- they are quite complex. So it is still a major challenge for the community. More on that and possible directions -- in subsequent postings.

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