Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Babylon tower and event formats

Still in the USA, after the OMG meeting in the Washington DC area, I got to the Boston area, and now I am in Burlington, MA, visiting the (former) Aptsoft guys. When driving abroad I am renting a car with GPS (see above to determine which one), and it typically gets me to where I want - however, it is still not totally reliable, in the last day it confused me twice, one yesterday night to find the hotel, it told me to turn left, and meant in the next turn, not in the current turn, but it did not say so, thus, I found myself back on the I95, and had to turn around at the next exit, and try again. Today it sent me to some shopping center instead of the Aptsoft site, and after I ignored it and found it - the local people told me that the GPS maps have the numbers of the street in the wrong directions (starting from the other end) - well, sometimes the technology is fine, and the weakest link is the data it uses.

Talking about data, one of the topics that were discussed in the OMG meeting about standards is the topic of -- semantic/structural standards for events. I have used the term "Babylon tower" in one of the earliest postings in this Blog and meant that we have Babylon tower of languages - like the original tower who separated the languages. However, there is another Babylon tower that relates to event format - syntax and semantics, and here the problem is even harder, since there are multiple formats in multiple domains, nobody even made an inventory survey. One of the presenters said (and it is true in some cases) that 80 percent of the cost of building EP application is to set up the events from the sources and transform them to a processable format by composing adapters (hand coded, or by using transformation engines). This is some of the domains that need more investigation, and perhaps we need a meta-data standard here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What can we learn from paradigms that succeeded ?

Today I have taken a few hours off my generally busy schedule, and visited the "National Air and Space Museum" in Washington D.C.; the globe shown above is showing stars as they were known in the 16th century (if my memory does not mislead me), the museum is very impressive (I have seen it 14 years ago, which was my last time in the Washington area, somehow it is not on my path). Anyway, I got here to attend (parts of) the OMG Technical Meeting. I was invited to give a talk in the MARS session about EPTS and EP related standards, as a prelude to a "complex event processing standards" workshop that will occur tomorrow (I'll be able to be only in the first half, need to catch a flight - so apologies to the other presenters, but I am quite familiar with the different players...). I have already written in the past on event processing standards more than once, so I'll not repeat myself -- if the organizers will post my presentation on a website, I'll advertise the URL. However, I would like to show one of the concluding slides I've presented (actually reused it, I've presented this slide before...)

This slide shows an example of a successful paradigm - relational database. In order to get there we still need a lot of brain power, we are not really there, we are now, as I have written before, in a similar situation to databases in the sixties, currently we can do standards on the interoperability issues, and on modeling - however, we still need to get to the "heart of the matter" -- a relatively simple theory of event processing -- similar to what relational theory did to databases. Working on a single frame of thinking will also add the brain power of the research community as done for relational database with the massive work on query optimization - in EP the optimization issues is not easier (I think they are more difficult, and cannot be done incrementally from other disciplines' optimizations). Are we there -- not really ! Can we be there --- I believe that the answer is positive... More than that, in order to get to the main stream of computing we'll need to do the equivalent to ALL items on the slide...

Some people who heard my talk were skeptical - which is fine, I am surrounded by skeptical people all my life, got used to it. They have good reasons to be skeptic, and I have a good reason to be optimistic -I have always been a best-case-scenario person, and know it does not work, but in the attempt one lands close enough... more - later.