Saturday, February 19, 2022

OBG: No Understanding without Foundation Knowledge Part 6: Debunking an Online Exchange 5

Note: To demonstrate the correctness and stability offered by a sound theoretical foundation (relative to the industry's fad-driven "cookbook" practices), I am re-publishing as "Oldies But Goodies" material from the old (2000-06) DBDebunk.com, so that you can judge for yourself how well my arguments hold up and whether the industry has progressed beyond the misconceptions those arguments were intended to dispel. I may revise, break into parts, and/or add comments and/or references, which I enclose in square brackets).

A 2001 review of my third book triggered an exchange on SlashDot. This six-part series comprises my debunking at the time of both the review and the exchange in the chronological (slightly out of the)  order of the original publication.
Part 1: Clarifications on a Review of My Book Part 1 @DBDebunk.com
Part 2: Slashing a SlashDot Exchange Part 1 @DBAzine.com
Part 3: Slashing a SlashDot Exchange Part 2 @DBAzine.com
Part 4: Slashing a SlashDot Exchange Part 3 @DBAzine.com
Part 5: Slashing a SlashDot Exchange Part 4 @DBAzine.com
Part 6: Clarifications on a Review of My Book Part 2 @DBDebunk.com

CLARIFICATIONS ON A DISCUSSION OF MY BOOK PART 2

(originally posted 2/21/01)

In Part 1 debunked a review of my book @Slashdot.Org. In parts 2-5 I tackled the discussion generated there by the review. In this last part I focus on the discussion of data hierarchies covered in chapter 7 of my book [the in-vogue re-emergent graph fad].

“Chapter 7 discusses data hierarchies and trees. In a nutshell: there are no trees in SQL. The author is distressed by this. Given that a foreign key is basically a pointer, you can store trees in databases, it might not be pretty and there may not be easy way to read them and it might not be a good thing to do - but if you feel the need then get right in there. Of course I could be totally wrong about this.”
Confusing keys with pointers is one of the major errors many practitioners make ]. One intentional core advantage of the RDM is precisely that it prohibits pointers -- both physical and, as in object-orientation, logical. Exposing pointers to users has caused many unnecessary problems and complications, but offered no benefit (Don't Mix Pointers and Relations and Don't Mix Pointers and Relations - Please! in Date's RELATIONAL DATABASE WRITINGS 1994-1997). There is an easy way to demonstrate that relational keys are not, like object IDs (OID), pointers, but values: they represent uniquely identifying names/attributes of rel world entities. Pointers are system-generated internals and have no real world counterpart. The desirability of a data model that produces logical models that are faithful representations of the real world, without adding artifacts of their own. Indeed, as Date points out in Why The Object Model' is Not a Data Model in his above-mentioned book, the fact that "in the object world all the references to objects are by means of their corresponding OIDs explains why -- as is well known -- OO systems typically provide (a) two different equality comparison operators, equal OID vs. equal value and (b) two different assignment operators, assign OID vs. assign value.  Note the added complication -- what is the benefit?

Sunday, February 13, 2022

OBG: No Understanding without Foundation Knowledge Part 5: Debunking an Online Exchange 4

Note: To demonstrate the correctness and stability due to a sound theoretical foundation relative to the industry's fad-driven "cookbook" practices, I am re-publishing as "Oldies But Goodies" material from the old DBDebunk.com (2000-06), Judge for yourself how well my arguments hold up and whether the industry has progressed beyond the misconceptions those arguments were intended to dispel. I may revise, break into parts, and/or add comments and/or references. You can acquire foundation knowledge by checking out our POSTS, BOOKS, PAPERS, LINKS (or, even better, organize one of our on-site SEMINARS, which can be customized to specific needs).

A 2001 review of my third book triggered an exchange on SlashDot. This six-part series comprises my debunking at the time of both the review and the exchange in the chronological (slightly out of the)  order of the original publication.
Part 1: Clarifications on a Review of My Book Part 1 @DBDebunk.com
Part 2: Slashing a SlashDot Exchange Part 1 @DBAzine.com
Part 3: Slashing a SlashDot Exchange Part 2 @DBAzine.com
Part 4: Slashing a SlashDot Exchange Part 3 @DBAzine.com
Part 5: Slashing a SlashDot Exchange Part 4 @DBAzine.com
Part 6: Clarifications on a Review of My Book Part 2 @DBDebunk.com

Slashing a Slashdot Exchange - Part 1

(first published @DBAzine.com in 2001)

I was recently contacted by a reporter for an interview. When I expressed my disappointment with the trade media’s tendency to regurgitate vendor marketing claims instead of  assessing them, he admitted "that is what happens about 98 percent of the time", but added "There are some outlets with a good piece from time to time that deal with serious architecture issues", mentioning SlashDot as one of them.

There is, of course, a Catch 22 here: to judge the seriousness of such outlets, foundation and substantive knowledge is necessary in the first place. And, alas, reporters possess even less of it than vendors and users (see, for example, The Ignorance Mechanism, On Trade Media’s "Balance"),
without which sources may appear serious even when they are nothing of the sort. As luck would have it, I ran into a good opportunity to prove this point for SlashDot. It so happened that shortly after my exchange with the journalist, Database Debunkings experienced a sudden ten-fold increase in traffic. Now, [given that my target audience is thinking practitioners,] were my material to suddenly become "hot", I would worry as to where I did go wrong. But the odds for that are rather slim and, fortunately, there was no need for concern: an email from a reader informed me that "there recently was an article posted to SlashDot.org which refers to Dbdebunk.com and Mr. Pascal/Date" and "There [were] some 443 comments to that posting." Such volume is practically always indicative of heat (hot air, to be more precise), rather than light. Ah, well, I thought, yet another source of weekly quotes (as if one was needed).

Friday, February 4, 2022

OBG: No Understanding without Foundation Knowledge Part 4: Debunking an Online Exchange 3

Note: To demonstrate the correctness and stability due to a sound theoretical foundation relative to the industry's fad-driven "cookbook" practices, I am re-publishing as "Oldies But Goodies" material from the old DBDebunk.com (2000-06), Judge for yourself how well my arguments hold up and whether the industry has progressed beyond the misconceptions those arguments were intended to dispel. I may revise, break into parts, and/or add comments and/or references. You can acquire foundation knowledge by checking out our POSTS, BOOKS, PAPERS, LINKS (or, even better, organize one of our on-site SEMINARS, which can be customized to specific needs).

A 2001 review of my third book triggered an exchange on SlashDot. This six-part series comprises my debunking at the time of both the review and the exchange in the chronological (slightly out of the)  order of the original publication.
Part 1: Clarifications on a Review of My Book Part 1 @DBDebunk.com
Part 2: Slashing a SlashDot Exchange Part 1 @DBAzine.com
Part 3: Slashing a SlashDot Exchange Part 2 @DBAzine.com
Part 4: Slashing a SlashDot Exchange Part 3 @DBAzine.com
Part 5: Slashing a SlashDot Exchange Part 4 @DBAzine.com
Part 6: Clarifications on a Review of My Book Part 2 @DBDebunk.com

“I did see your plea for help with funding Chris Date. Frankly, I think his approach is "dated", from what I could understand from talking to him at VLDB’99 in Edinburgh. We now live in a world of Agents, Semantic Web and XML. That is our main research focus here. Thus we would not be interested.”
--Sr. faculty, Academic Institution
“But within the context of the University of Washington, it would not be my classes where it would be appropriate to present that type of information [on fundamentals]. My classes are graduate level, highly technical and I don’t allow PowerPoint slides or any non-technical content.”
--Oracle practitioner, graduate teaching
“Recently, James H. Billington, the current Librarian of Congress, remarked that instead of a knowledge-based democracy, we may end up with an information-inundated democracy. I share his concern, so allow me to end with this simple wish. May, in spite of all distractions generated by technology, all of you succeed in turning information into knowledge, knowledge into understanding, and understanding into wisdom.”
--Edsger Dijkstra, Convocation Speech

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