Saturday, September 26, 2009

On Contexts

Sometimes I feel out of context, but today I would like to return to the notion of context, which is the topic of chapter 7 of the EPIA book. I have discussed the notion of context first time almost two years ago, and since then mentioned it in some other postings; so now it is a good time to talk more about it. A context, in essence, is a grouping of events that are processed together. This grouping may be: temporal, spatial, state oriented, or segmentation oriented, as seen in the figure below.

Temporal context may be fixed interval, interval that start and end in the occurrence (or detection) of events, and also sliding interval, according to time, or number of events. Spatial contexts can relate to fixed location, to distance from an entity, and to distance from the location of event occurrence, state oriented refers to external state (e.g. weather), and segmentation oriented, refers to partition of the event space according to some assertion (e.g. simple partition can be: platinum customers, gold customers and other type of customers). A context can be composite such as: spatial and temporal together.

What is the role of context in event processing ? first - an event processing agent lives within a context, in different contexts, the same event can be processed by different event processing agents. Second - it determines which events are processed together as input for the same pattern detection (AKA "complex event processing"). For example, if we are looking for the behavior of a single customer within a single day, then this is a combination of a temporal context (day) and a segmentation context (partition by customer), and each of them is processed in looking for a distinct pattern. This is a description of contexts in a nutshell. Some languages support kinds of temporal contexts ("window" or "sliding window"), some have more developed notion of context, and some have none. I'll write more about context types in one of the next postings.

Friday, September 25, 2009

More on what's next for EPTS

This is the logo of the event processing symposium, the building in the picture is opposite the conference's site. Back home now, after the event processing symposium and also co-located meeting of the EASSy consortium that is submitting a proposal for the EU R&D program.

This is a good time also to summarize the output of the symposium on the question what's next to EPTS. Earlier today this summary was sent to the EPTS members.

The main agreed goal of the "next steps" is Accelerating the activities and impact of EPTS, in order to do it, we'll need more people to enter the circle of activities in EPTS, some of the participants in the symposium, who have not been active so far, expressed willingness to participate in activities, and we are, as always, calling on more people to join.

Here are the activities, classified according to the activity area.

1. Existing working groups:

1.1. Glossary
There has been a discussion that included a conference call.
It was agreed that all comments and proposals from other work groups about terms in the glossary should be posted on the members wiki during the next month, after that time the glossary team will consider all comments and propose a revised version.

1.2 Use Cases
The use cases work group will publish its questionnaire and solicit use cases, also need to think of motivation to provide these use cases (see proposal on awards).

1.3 Language Analysis
The language analysis work group was asked to take the languages dimensions to the next level, so languages can be classified based on criteria. Also it will collect patterns and devise a library of patterns.

1.4 Reference Architecture
The reference architecture work group will continue its work to publish the reference architecture(s) of event processing.

1.5 Interoperability
This workgroup has been delayed. During the meeting it was re-established and will start activities.

There has been a general agreement that the workgroups should accelerate their activities; it was proposed that deliverables will be linked to external commitments (e.g. presentation/tutorials in external conferences) so deadlines will be established.

2. New proposed workgroups

Four new workgroups have been proposed. Each one has assigned a leader to write charter that will be put to a vote by all members:

2.1. Awards workgroups.

Awards will increase visibility, provide motivation for people to report various things (e.g. use cases) and establish EPTS as a recognized authority. Types of possible awards:
Research innovation award – given to researcher, Application innovation award - given to customer.

2.2. ROI

It was proposed that EPTS will publish a document about ROI of event processing in general and in different domains and industries; this will be used as a source for educating customers in a manner that is independent of a specific product.

2.3 EPTS promotion

It is proposed to promote the EPTS brand and awareness to its activities using website, webinars, white papers, press releases, participating in various conferences and more. This workgroup will recommend and coordinate these promotion activities.

2.4. Collecting Datasets.

Researchers require datasets for various research activities. This workgroup will help collecting these data sets, and makes EPTS as source of data sets repository.

3. Other activities

3.1 Coordination among work groups.

The issue of coordination among workgroups has been raised; the steering committee will work with the work group leaders to determine best way to act.

3.2. Grand challenges

There has been initial discussion on grand challenges. This discussion will continue on the members' Wiki. The Dagstuhl seminar in May 2010 will deal with the grand challenges issue.

3.3. Reach out to adjacent communities:

EPTS will continue to trace and participate in joint activities with the BPM, IT event management and robotics communities.

3.4. Association with DEBS

It was agreed to offer the DEBS steering committee to include EPTS as "in cooperation with" on DEBS website.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

5th Event Processing symposium - second day

Still in Trento, here is another view from Trento's center city. Today we have started the day with the second reach-out session, this time to the IT management (AKA network and system management) area. The second keynote, Kristian Stewart, from IBM (formerly Micromuse) gave a good survey about the area, followed by a panel. This is an interesting domain, and we'll continue to look at the synergy between different domains of event processing. Next I have provided the report of the language analysis workgroup. There has been some long discussion about standards and next items. Directives for the workgroup:
  • Collection patterns is a good idea.
  • Get the dimensions work to the next level of detail, so languages will be able to be profiled on capabilities matrix
  • Some opinions were to layer the functions in different layers. There were also counter opinion, but we'll take the issue back to the workgroup.
  • As for standard, most people thought that we cannot achieve language standard in the near future, and interoperability standard should be a better goal.
  • Meta-language may be attempted, maybe as extension of other meta-languages.
After the lunch break, we heard the third keynote speaker, Sebastian Wrede, who talked about event based systems in robotics. It was interesting to see applications in somewhat different domain than we are used to. We also had a bunch of short research presentations. Last but not least, we had a session on grand challenges on which I'll write a separate posting. After that we have been driven to a castle outside Trento for a dinner. It is late --- so I'll stop here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

5th Event Processing symposium - first day

Trento, early morning, the Grand Hotel. I have arrived to Trento on Sunday night after a few days vacation in Italy. Yesterday we had the first day of the symposium. Some of the highlights:

  • Starting the day with the first keynote talk by John Mylopoulos (whose picture you can see below), one of the most distinguished scientists I am familiar with, who gave a talk about looking for meaning and intentions behind event processing as part of a larger play in enterprise computing. I think that this is one of our grand challenges, getting beyond the operational models of today.

  • Next, there has been a multi participants panel about event-driven BPM with some vendors, users and one academic person. Many are watching this space, but the vendors think it is premature to move there. We are trying now to get EU project proposal for this area, and will meet the consortium later this week here.
  • There were three workgroup reports, the fourth workgroup - today.
  • The use case workgroup returned on their findings that were provided in the DEBS 2009 tutorial, some new use cases were presented by Francois Bry and Serge Mankovski on social network analysis and IT management (a topic we'll discuss today). Dieter also called for a better coordination among the EPTS workgroups.
  • The reference architecture workgroup presented some principles and a few proposals for reference architectures from Oracle, TIBCO, Streambase, University of Trento and IBM.
  • There has been a public hearing of the glossary 2.0 version, where the glossary WG chairs, David Luckham and Roy Schulte participated from remote, and Peter Niblett did the local moderation. Many comments have been given on the draft, and all EPTS members are asked to provide comments on the members wiki (at this phase it is open for EPTS members only, at later phase we'll put the glossary draft for the public).
We have a challenge this year of travel restrictions, but still we got around 45 participants, the same number we got for the Orlando symposium two years ago. Many of the participants are from Europe, but there are quite a few Americans who came. More on the EPTS symposium - later.