Sunday, April 26, 2015

Comments on Stonebraker Interview

Revised: 12/2017

Interviewed about his Turing Award, Michael Stonebraker is "modest" about his jointly-with-others contribution:

"... the Ingres database [sic] brought Codd’s lofty relational ideas into the realm of ordinary individuals ... turned [them] into constructs that could be manipulated by ordinary people ... it was argued at the time that RDBMS couldn’t perform, but we showed it could be efficient."
and gives most of the credit to "Ted" Codd:
"What Ted proposed was radical ... a complete change from how things were being done in database [sic] ... he turned the problem of data management into one of relations. That dramatically simplified things ... The conventional wisdom was that you should build for the particulars of how the data is stored. He saw that made no sense ... he [moved] the actual manipulation of data away from assembly language programming of the time to higher levels of abstraction that would later become structured query language, or SQL ... He brought principles of encapsulation and abstraction to programming databases, like with a high-level-language in programming."
Quite. Except that Ted was vehemently critical of SQL as a botched concretization of the RDM which, as it turned out, ensured that his ideas would never be truly and fully implemented (one of which, incidentally, was a relational declarative data sublanguage that would replace programming for data management DBMS functions). On the one hand SQL, whatever its flaws, was much superior to the database technologies that preceded it; on the other it has been forever identified with the RDM, to the point where the chance for true RDBMSs was lost (the assembly language statement is not quite accurate -- COBOL, FORTRAN and special purpose languages were used at the time -- assembly language was used for writing access methods at the I/O level, but even that wasn't pure).

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Weekly Update

1. Quote of the Week
To clarify my point further, although M doesn't care about how it's implemented, the implementation has a strong influence on the logical structures that it's trying to implement. In a normalized or demoralized [sic] debate, a fully normalized physical schema is always good, when implemented on an infinite performance hardware.

2. To Laugh or Cry?
I recently attended a presentation on Azure DocumentDB, Microsoft's NoSQL cloud product. I made the following notes:

  • Polyglot persistence: Wasn't this what the RDM was supposed to substitute? 
  • Hierarchy: Didn't we get rid of HDM decades ago?
  • NoSQL: No SQL, but a "SQL-like" language (it's barely relational and now it's used for documents?)
  • No integrity, data independence: Nothing learned from the past.
  • Cloud: At least mainframes were under each company's control.

3. Online Debunkings

Comments on "Michael Stonebraker Explains Oracle’s Obsolescence, Facebook’s Enormous Challenge"
4. Interesting Elsewhere
Unskilled and Unaware of It
5. And now for something completely different

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Class Business Rules and Table Constraints

My April post @All Analytics.

Aside from domain constraints, every R-table designed to represent a single class of entities is also subject to table constraints that approximate in the database class business rules in the real world. If the rules are not documented, for the conscientious analyst who wants to guarantee sensible data manipulation and result interpretation they are the next best thing.

Read it All. (Please comment there, not here)


Saturday, April 11, 2015

David McGoveran Interview

DBDebunk readers should know of David McGoveran (see his bibliography under FUNDAMENTALS), whose work on relational theory and practice has appeared or been discussed on the old site and here over the years. On more than one occasion I mentioned the Principle of Orthogonal Design (POOD) identified by David, who had published several years ago work he did on the subject with Chris Date. The POOD has relevance to updating relations and particularly views and led to Date's VIEW UPDATING AND RELATIONAL THEORY book .

I recently mentioned that David's and Date's understandings on POOD have diverged since their joint effort--currently Date and Darwen reject the POOD as formulated then and David has problems with Date's understanding of it and with their THE THIRD MANIFESTO (TTM) book.

David is working on a book tentatively titled LOGIC FOR SERIOUS DATABASE FOLKS where he will detail his views on RDM in general and POOD and view updating in particular, but in the meantime I asked him to publish an early draft of a chapter on the latter subject, which he did-- Can All Relations Be Updated?--and which he has just revised.

He has asked me to post a clarification on the nature of the differences with Date and Darwen (see next) and I used the opportunity to interview him about his impressive career, which covers much more than database management. David provided written answers to questions.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Weekly Update

1. Quote of the Week
Hopefully with the emergence of better cloud infrastructure and unstructured databases, it'll become easier and easier to build utilities to handle the intake and transformation of big, messy datasets into units of info ready for insights. SocialScale ( just launched an MVP a month ago to provide instant access to raw social data (via Gnip), ready-for-analysis, in any tool.

2. To Laugh or Cry?
Are SQL Relational DBMS's Here to Stay?

3. Online Debunkings

4. Interesting Elsewhere

5. And now for something completely different

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