Friday, September 17, 2010

On Singapore and some thoughts about the western democracy

Back home after a week in Singapore (VLDB conference + a few days of being a tourist, using public transportation).    Here is the Merlion - Singapore's symbol:
and here is myself in the Singapore's zoo which resides inside  a beautiful rain-forest.

I also learned about Singapore culture and unique political structure, Singapore is a combination of people who are by origin Chinese, Indian and Malayan - and all these languages are spoken, but the common language is English.  I have read in the local newspaper brought to my hotel room every morning an interview with Lee Kuan Yew,  the person behind Singapore, one of the question addressed to this 87 years old statesman is about the democracy style.  Singapore does not have democracy in the western style, what Lee called in the interview "competition based politics", and the power is held by a single group of people throughout Singapore's lifetime so far, but the results are very impressive -- it has the largest growth rate in the world in 2010, the economic is good, the quality of life is high and people are generally happy, the government is one of the less corrupted and most transparent in the world.   This adds to the skepticism I have developed over the years towards the western style politics, of course, there is always a danger that people in power may abuse it, but this is true no matter how they got to power. I am not sure that the current system in which people elect their leaders according to their TV appeal really brings the right kind of leaders.  Come to think of it, in the corporate world, a corporate does not elect it CEO that way either.  Maybe we should think of a country leadership like corporate leadership,  with board of directors which represents the interests of the stakeholders (the citizens), and a CEO that manages the country and being nominated by the board of directors (that can also send the CEO home anytime),  this is not really the same as a parliament system - of course, there are many details to sort.     We are educated that the western style democracy is an axiom, and that any deviation of it is dictatorship and bad for the people,  Singapore is a counter-example, while I will not claim that everything is bright in the Singapore system, the world does not consist of black and white, I was very impressed by what has been done in this island without natural resources over a relatively short period of time,  I think that the west has something to learn from Asia in more than one sense.    More - later 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On VLDB 2010 and the event processing tutorial

Still in Singapore,  after the vacation, this is VLDB time,  VLDB is one of the largest databases conferences, however databases is a large heterogeneous area, and I wonder if there is a single person who can understand all  talks.   The keynote talk by Divesh Saristava from AT&T Research talked about stream warehouses, or event stores in my language.  There were also some event processing related demos, and a stream research track, with one interesting talk that compared the semantics of Coral8 CCL language to this of Streambase and got to the (not surprising) conclusion that their semantics is different and similar queries would yield different results, then it tried to come up with a framework to generalize the two types of semantics, and they extend it to other languages.   I think that this is in line of the work we are doing on common model, and will follow up with them (they are from ETH Zurich) about collaboration on that one.

Today I have delivered a tutorial under the title "event processing - past, present and future",  much of it follows the EPIA book.    Since this is a database conference I opened in showing various opinions about the relations between event processing and data stream management, which is the name used in the database community, the various opinions are:

  1.  They are aliases -- a stream is just a collection of events, likewise, an event is just a member in a stream, and the functionality is the same.
  2. Stream management is a subset of event processing -- there are different ways to do event processing, streams is one of them
  3. Event processing is a subset of stream management -- event streams is just one type of stream, but there are voice stream, video stream and more streams
  4. Event processing and stream management are distinct and there is no overlapping between them.

As I have heard all four opinions about it,  I'll let you judge which is the right one. Hint:  option 4 is totally false, there is some truth in options 1-3, depending on the viewpoint.

Anyway - the tutorial has been uploaded to slideshare, and you can view it there. Enjoy.

Tomorrow is my last planned day in Singapore, and I'll write more about this very impressive country soon.