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Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Communications of the ACM
Volume 48, Number 5 (2005), Pages 111-118
The Lowell database research self-assessment

It is time to stop grafting new constructs onto the traditional architecture of the past. Instead, we should rethink basic DBMS architecture with an eye toward supporting:

  • Structured data;
  • Text, space, time, image, and multimedia data;
  • Procedural data; that is, data types and the methods that encapsulate them;
  • Triggers; and
  • Data streams and queues
as co-equal first-class components within the DBMS architecture—both its interface and its implementation—rather than as afterthoughts grafted onto a relational core...

Many new applications that use DBMSs are going to require unattended operation. In addition to no-knobs tuning, the DBMS must be able to recognize internal malfunctions and malfunctions of communicating components, identify data corruption, detect application failures, and do something about them. Such capabilities require making the DBMS more self-aware and providing it with explicit models of the information system in which it participates...

A small number of slick visualization systems oriented toward information presentation were proposed during the 1980s, notably QBE and VisiCalc. There have not been comparable advances in the last 15 years, and there is a substantial need for better ideas in this area.

Thirty years of research on query languages can be summarized by "we have moved from SQL to XQuery."

First, the database research community should avoid drawing too narrow a box around what we do. We must explore opportunities for combining database and related technologies that can improve the usage of information, such as information visualization technologies, which has often been left to the domain of other research communities. To broaden the set of technologies database researchers apply, they need to expand their breadth of competencies. Consider the plasterers' union, which decided many years ago, when wallboard was being introduced, that it was not their competency. As plaster was replaced by wallboard, the union lost out. This fate could befall the DBMS community if it does not respond to the new challenges of integrating related technologies with information management.

Second, it was noted that the average age of participants at these meetings has been increasing. On the other hand, there are more young database researchers than ever before, as evidenced by the large number of junior faculty in databases. We recommend the next meeting invite a broader mix of age groups within our community.

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.