October 10, 2005

TransRelational(TM) nonsense

Database guru Christopher J. Date is apparently accepting money from attendees to his seminars on TransRelational(TM) database archicture, so that he can tell them about an as-yet unreleased product from Required Technologies, Inc.

This is regrettable on multiple levels.

1. Required Technologies shut down product development in 2002, after running through $30 million; there’s great acrimony between investors and the CEO; and lawsuits are likely.

2. Required’s product never did most of what Date seems to be claiming it now does. It was a read-oriented columnar data store, much like Sybase IQ or a number of other products from younger companies.

The basic idea behind these products is like that of bitmapped indices, even if the actual implementation doesn’t use literal bitmaps, or indeed indices at all. To be competitive they generally need three things – good compression, decent updating, and a way to handle higher-cardinality columns. (Cases in which cardinality is low enough for true bitmapping to make sense are the exception, not the rule.) These products may also exploit the fact that a bitmapped index recreates all the information in the database, and hence you don’t have to keep two copies; the index effectively BECOMES the database. (Thus, Required’s claim not to have indices at all is one of the few parts of its story that is NOT ridiculous.)

This general product design is not all bad. Yes, it destroys update performance, but there are potential techniques to keep that problem bounded (e.g., with update staging tables that have a traditional row-based architecture). It seems to assume that you primarily want to store datatypes with concise values and a natural sort order (e.g. numbers, character strings), but other architectures share that flaw, and up to a point it could use the same workarounds they do. And it certainly can show much better query performance than a traditional row-oriented database, especially if the traditional database is poorly designed or deliberately unoptimized.

However, there’s no way that an essentially dead company can complete what would be a commercially useful product in this area. Unless a lot changes – a lot more than Date is evidently implying – Required isn’t going to be shipping something that can compete effectively with standard big-name DBMS products.

Date and Pascal should be deeply ashamed of themselves.

Some of the links below have references to “orders of magnitude” performance improvements over conventional systems, perhaps based on benchmarks. Even if that’s true, it proves very little. A benchmark of a prototype system shows almost nothing about performance in real world production situations.

Related links

Edit: A number of these have gone broken since the time of the original post

Note: I am NOT under the delusion that the company stuck with the in-memory architecture it pitched to its inventors and disclosed in its patent, and which was the basis for an online debate about the disk-worthiness of the architecture within the past year. I’m relying on nonpublic — but thoroughly reliable — sources. When a company lays off that many people, it’s no big trick to, after the fact, figure out what it was doing.

Comments

64 Responses to “TransRelational(TM) nonsense”

  1. CityArchitect on October 12th, 2005 11:02 am

    Tend to agree with you here. Looking at the concepts of the
    Model I agree I’ve seen this before even in models during
    the 1970’s. The idea of using instance values and indexing
    them by their “occurrence” is as old as the trees.
    Surely the Software Patents on this are just kite-flying,
    and as far as I am concerned bring US-style Software
    Patents into disrepute; are they using them to
    bolster shareholder value for a failed enterprise?

  2. CityArchitect on October 12th, 2005 11:06 am

    Incidentally, if I read this right, Google should be
    shaking in their boots.
    They have a single word attribute value and a variable
    length instance index (the URL), something even they
    didn’t invent.
    If you want to find some root for this kind of model look
    to IBM’s old information retrieval system, STAIRS. I
    don’t think they’re frightened of these patents…..

  3. Curt Monash on October 12th, 2005 3:31 pm

    If you’re suggesting a high commonality between full-text, bit-mapped, and
    other kinds of columnar indexes, you’re absolutely right.

    As one extreme example, SAP’s new BI Accelerator product (formerly known as
    Euclid, and then as HPA) grew out of their full-text technology (called TREX).

  4. DBMS2 — DataBase Management System Services»Blog Archive » Oh, dear — Chris Date is displeased with me on October 29th, 2005 10:57 am

    [...] Beyond that, I’m picking on Date because he is misleading his paying audience(s) on the subject of TransRelational technology. In that regard he’s acting like so many other DBMS vendor marketing spokespeople, who may not have been precisely lying, in that they probably deluded themselves before peddling nonsense to others. But at least John Cullinane and Dave Peterschmidt were shipping actual, useful products. Nor did they charge for seminar admittances or book sales just so that people could hear their pitches. [...]

  5. fabian pascal on November 14th, 2005 12:41 pm

    Monash knows zilch about TRM. But then he knows zilch about RM too,
    and lack of knowldge has not stopped him ever before from
    generating crappola. In fact, he is not even aware of how ignorant
    he is.

    Nonsense indeed, but the only one is from Monash.

    Unskilled and unaware of it. Typical american.

  6. fabian pascal on November 14th, 2005 1:43 pm

    Curt, do you ever write anything about things
    you actually know something about? Probably not,
    because if you had to write about that, you
    would not be able to write anything.

  7. Curt Monash on November 14th, 2005 3:28 pm

    Does anybody have a substantive comment to make?

    CAM

  8. fabian pascal on November 14th, 2005 4:09 pm

    Did you ever notice that’s what I was asking
    you? Can you ever make a substantive comment?

  9. SJ Larson on November 14th, 2005 4:20 pm

    Fabian knows zilch about Americans and yet
    he writes incessantly about them. Do as I say
    not as I do is Fabian’s way.

    It is typical of Fabian to be exactly what
    he claims to hate. He claims to hate capitalists
    and then charges for his “debunkings” at every
    opportunity. Best of all, he puts his links to
    his for-profit scribblings on every blog and
    forum he can.

    Face it, Fabby, you don’t know anything about TRM
    either. Your attempts to prop up a failed product
    and a failed enterprise are laughable. Date is on
    the payroll and you refuse to cruxify him as you
    would anyone else for being a “corporate lackey”. Why?
    Because his name is your site, along with his books,
    makes YOU money.

    Such is the way of pitiful, old academics who produce
    nothing but hot air. Remember Fabian, sometimes when
    everyone in the industry is against you it doesn’t make
    you revolutionary. Many times you’re just a loud-mouth
    jerk.

  10. Curt Monash on November 14th, 2005 5:34 pm

    SJ,

    I refuse to take Pascal’s rants against “capitalism” the slightest bit seriously. He makes his living giving advice to employees of large enterprises (specifically their IT shops) about how to make those enterprises more profitable (by creating better business software and/or by creating or running the same business software more cheaply). Recently he was sponsored by one of the large software companies he incessantly decries (Oracle) to do so, and his resume boasts of consulting arrangements with other large vendors.

    I’m trying to take the high road here (somewhat unaccustomedly, I must confess) and not respond directly to every silly insult he throws my way. But I have trouble keeping my temper at his ungrateful, hypocritical, knee-jerk anti-Americanism and anti-capitalism. When he starts on those rants, he’s so intellectually and morally bankrupt it’s painful to read.

    And I say this as somebody who believes Bush 43 is the worst war criminal ever to hold the office, and more generally is not one of the 42 best presidents the US has ever had.

  11. SJ Larson on November 14th, 2005 5:50 pm

    I don’t see how Bush is a “war criminal” but I
    will take the high road, as you have, and leave
    you with that illusion.

    You are correct on TRM and wrong on Bush and the
    Iraq war. Perhaps I am the only one who remembers
    who Saddam and the Taliban are what they have done.
    Who are the war criminals? The many (the UN) that
    allow places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, Rwanda,
    Cuba, North Korea, and Zimbabwe to continue? Or the few
    (USA, UK, Australia, Poland, etc.) that put lives and
    resources on the line to stop them?

  12. Curt Monash on November 14th, 2005 5:57 pm

    When I called him a terrible president, I was referring to everything, from the deficit to FEMA to the decision to attack Iraq and not North Korea or the Sudan to deceiving people into not using condoms (and hence getting AIDS), and much more besides.

    But when I called him a “war criminal” I was specifically referring to what he does with the prisoners he takes.

  13. SJ Larson on November 14th, 2005 6:33 pm

    So you are in favor of attacking
    North Korea and Sudan?

    The prisoners taken by our military are
    not protected by the Geneva Convention.
    Interrogation does not equal torture.

  14. Curt Monash on November 14th, 2005 6:45 pm

    SJ,

    This is a good spot to stop the political discussion. Many prominent political folks hold my views on the point (more or less); many (I presume) hold yours; folks who want to read about them have plenty of other sources.

    Fabian,

    I assumed your question was rhetorical. And anybody who cares about the answer can deduce it for themselves from this blog. Either defend your apparent lies on the subject of TRM — or say something else substantive about a DBMS-related issue — or resign yourself to being ignored.

    And simply saying “You don’t know all the facts,” without followup details, is not a defense. Maybe you’ve been spreading this story without any direct knowledge yourself, taking Chris Date’s word for it. Fine. But my research has shown Date’s words on the subject to be pretty questionable. So if all you have to offer is “Whatever Chris Date says must be true,” you can just buzz off.

    If, on the other hand, there was indeed a way to make dramatic product improvements with near-zero resources — and if you want to be believed in your general optimism about TRM — then please share some supporting information.

  15. fabian pascal on November 14th, 2005 6:58 pm

    What is laughable, Curt, is that you continuously pronounce
    on things you know nothing about and when you are taken to
    task substantively, you NEVER address criticisms, but rather
    accuse, without evidence, the critics of precisely what you are
    guilty of: ignorance and lack of substance. And you are counting
    on the ignorance in industry to get away with it.

    Face it, Curt baby, you know nothing about what I know or do not know
    about TRM, nor do you know anything about the substance of TRM.

    The same is true of knowledge of americans: I have studied
    social systems for years and I am on public record with
    substantive analyses of this system. You have produced nothing
    of the kind, nor have you rebutted anything with reason and
    evidence. You just make superficial and outrageous declarations
    without any ability to support them. And if that is not
    characteristic of today’s America, I dk what is.

  16. fabian pascal on November 14th, 2005 7:06 pm

    You are confusing making a living with a capitalist system.

    The US is hardly a capitalist system, but a corporate welfare
    state, where costs are socialized and profits are privatized.

    You criticize Date for writing one sponsored booklet among
    huge contributions to database science, while producing
    nothing BUT hot air, and admitting that you wrote sponsored
    stuff yourself.

    You don’t even know the difference between insults and professional
    criticism. You are the first who threw out “jerk” here, while I
    simply stated a fact: that you are ignorant of the subject matter
    you pronounce on.

    So I will let others judge who is the jerk here.

  17. fabian pascal on November 14th, 2005 7:09 pm

    SJ,

    You know as much about TRM as you know about politics.
    As much as I hate to admit it, but with regard to the US political system,
    of which Bush is a logical product, I agree with Curt.

  18. fabian pascal on November 14th, 2005 7:14 pm

    CityArchitect,

    I challenged your claim elsewhere that looked at TRM, but you never
    satisfied the challenge.

    I’ll say it again: there is no way you could have looked at TRM,
    because it’s not published. At best you looked at the patent. And:
    (1) it’s VERY hard to tell what TRM is from that (2) the patent
    does not cover the whole innovation in detail (3) there has been
    considerable progress since the pattent.

    The notion that TRM is about the same thing as Sybase IQ or Sand is
    bullshit. Both you and Monash think you know TRM, but you have no
    clue.

  19. Curt Monash on November 14th, 2005 7:18 pm

    Fabian,

    I am NOT going to engage with you about precise definitions of “relational” or “capitalism.” Most of the time, I just use those words the way the readers use them. (Sometimes, of course, I do draw distinctions such as “true relational.”)

    As for your claims of my “ignorance” — they’re patently false, and I don’t wish to engage you on those when the evidence for or against your claim can be found here and elsewhere on the Web. However, one point is worth highlighting again — the real issues aren’t in database design, where you and Date are both acknowledged experts. They’re in DBMS design, which is a separate but related subject about which neither of you seems to know much at all. My judgment is also based on knowing a whole lot about how the industry works, which is extremely relevant when judging whether a company will ever successfully ship a certain product with a particular feature set.

    And I’m not criticizing Date for the fact of a marketing-oriented “booklet” or seminar or textbook appendix per se. Rather, I’m criticizing him for the inaccuracy of what he’s saying and implying in them, and in related interviews and the like.

  20. fabian pascal on November 14th, 2005 7:21 pm

    I would love nothing better than to have the book published
    and provide details on TRM, to demonstrate how ignorant you
    are, but unfortunately I cannot, which is not under my control.

    I reiterate that my support is of the TECHNOLOGY, not any product.
    Whether a product is implemented or not is separate from the
    technology and the innovation that characterizes it. Even if
    no product is produced, it can still be demonstrated that TRM is
    the right, if not only way, to implement true RDBMSs. I do not
    promote any product, but the technology.

    Be that as it may, this does not negate the fact that you have
    provided NOTHING of substance in your rant, except for rumors
    and guesses based on ignorance, yet you keep demanding substance
    of others, which have produced much more substance that you will
    ever produce in your entire life.

  21. Curt Monash on November 14th, 2005 7:23 pm

    Uh, Fabian — you might want to be a little clearer about when you’re talking about an architecture, and when you’re talking about an actual product. If you really are talking about a product, then “TRM” may not be the best name for it, since the “M” seems to stand for “Model.” On the other hand, if you aren’t talking about an actual product, all this mention of “benchmarks” is pretty weird, as are various other claims that have been made.

  22. Curt Monash on November 14th, 2005 7:25 pm

    Without building an actual product, it can NOT be demonstrated that TRM is a viable way to implement a “true relational” DBMS or indeed a versatile commercial DBMS at all.

    What’s more, if nobody’s ever built one, it will at best be many years before one shows up in the marketplace robust enough for widespread use.

  23. fabian pascal on November 14th, 2005 7:37 pm

    Nonsense, like most of the blah-blah that you
    generate.

    Pls provide evidence that I ever promoted a
    TRM product. I have always talked about the
    model, I only said that I hope a product will
    be implemented.

    The only reason we mentioned benchmarks is
    because you and others made unsubstantiated
    claims either that the model CANNOT possibly
    perform well, or that the prototype HAS not
    done so, both of which are BS. We simply said
    that whatever benchmarks were done, they defy
    those claims. That’s all.

    A lot of crap is viable in the industry, and a lot of good stuff
    is not. That has to do with the quality of the
    industry, which is abysmal. Anybody who confuses market
    viability with technical merit ought to have his head examined.

  24. Curt Monash on November 14th, 2005 7:46 pm

    There are no benchmarks supporting any claims about a “true relational” DBMS implemented on the TRM, because in fact no such product has even been built.

    There are no benchmarks supporting favorable claims about TP performance of any DBMS implemented on the TRM, because the only such product ever built was very slow at TP, to the extent it could do TP at all.

    And as long as you give space on your website to people who promote different, untrue opinions — and do so in format fairly indistiguishable from that of your own writings — you are promoting their falsehoods.

  25. fabian pascal on November 14th, 2005 7:56 pm

    Pls do not put things in my mouth just so
    you can extract yourself from your nonsense,
    and demolish strawmen.

    I NEVER said anything about benchmarking any
    PRODUCT. All I said was that in response to
    claims that TRM cannot perform and DID NOT
    perform when it was tested (as you just stated),
    we said that when the prototype was tested
    with some huge db’s against Sand and others,
    it performed several folds better than
    SQL products, while Sand (a FULL PRODUCT) failed
    to complete. That’s all.

    I repeat: you DK what TRM is, and whatever
    hearsay you bought into is false. Stop
    talking about and accuse others, who do know,
    of same.

  26. Curt Monash on November 14th, 2005 8:15 pm

    A prototype is a product. But if you don’t want to use the language that way, then go back and change various places I said “product” to read “prototype or product.”

    And by the way, Required DID build something that they thought was ready for beta test. That counts as a “product” in anybody’s book, even though it never actually shipped.

    Now, if you’re saying the benchmarks weren’t of that, but rather of something else that was hastily thrown together with negligible resources — well, whatever that something else is, benchmarking it proves nothing about the performance of a hypothetical future product with enough features to be useful.

  27. fabian pascal on November 15th, 2005 5:53 am

    Again, don’t put things in people’s mouth, so
    that they fit your errneous claims.

    Unlike you, I don’t write about what I do not
    know. I was not privy to whatever tests were
    done by ReqTech and I do not know many details
    (neither do you, but you insist on making
    claims that you do, while I don’t).

    What I do know is that something was tested and
    was incomparably better than what is available.
    And the only reason I mentioned it is because
    you and other ignorami claimed, without any
    evidence, that it failed the test.

    Whether it was a prototype or a beta is
    irrelevant for the point I was making, and I was
    making it only in response to
    unsubstantiated and baseless claims. My preference
    was to stick to the model until such time as
    somebody implements it right.

    I repeat: you know NOTHING of either the model,
    or the business circumstances of which you
    write. You ass-u-me you know and you try to
    create the impression that you know, because
    you have “sources”.

    Well, my ass you do.

  28. Curt Monash on November 15th, 2005 7:14 am

    I never claimed that the product in question failed any test. I’m not aware of anybody else who’s made that claim either. You’re simply making that stuff up.

    As for the rest — I have my sources, you have yours. My sources gave me facts; yours seems to have only given you opinions. And my facts contradict your opinions. What’s more, I’m a professional interviewer (part of the analyst profession, which at times is a lot like being an investigative reporter); you’re not.

    Some day, I may put stories in the Software Memories blog about some of my more spectacular analytical discoveries; I was a professional debunker possibly before you could even pronounce the word. I may even put in stories that cast me in a poorer light, telling of my more naive beliefs in cool technologies that sadly never went anywhere. If I do, you might stand to learn a lot, momentarily putting aside our mutual disdain.

    But for now, you’ve confessed that your opinions are based on almost nothing more than your faith in — well, I’m guessing it’s your faith in Chris Date. Thank you for that contribution. Now please buzz off.

  29. fabian pascal on November 16th, 2005 7:43 am

    Yeah, right.

    The only spectacular thing about you that is
    visible and one can comment on is your
    ignorance of the topics you write about.
    And anybody who writes what is, to put it,
    politely, incapable of anything better.

    You criticize people who put their
    contributions in the public domain and subject
    them to public judgement and disproof, while
    publishing crap and claiming all sorts of
    spectacular work and sources and expect
    people to “trust you”. That, Curt baby, is BS.

    To date you have only proven yourself a
    vociferous ignormaus, an insulter, an ass-u-me’r,
    and a snake oil salesman.

    So please, f… off.

  30. Curt Monash on November 16th, 2005 5:25 pm

    Fabian,

    I think the main people who’d judge my track record negatively are those who are both quick to form strong opinions and also too lazy to web search. I can live quite happily with your/their disapproval.

  31. fabian pascal on November 16th, 2005 7:55 pm

    Contrary to your illusions, all this is not
    about you and what you can or cannot live
    with. It’s the impact of your nonsense on
    those who are misled by your comments. But I
    know that this is not something that occurs
    to you.

    WHAT track record? You keep criticizing ReqTech
    for not having anything to show for it, while
    you have absolutely NO track record that is
    public. Zilch.

    If you must call your own (invisible) work
    spectacular. Those who really have truly
    spectacular achievements don’t do that; they
    have no need to.

  32. Curt Monash on November 16th, 2005 8:24 pm

    Again, Fabian — the readers I care about are not the ones who’d say I have no public track record. If somebody can’t use a search engine, or can’t read, they’re not an important part of my audience.

    I’ll let the rest of your insults pass this time.

  33. fabian pascal on November 17th, 2005 5:49 am

    I’ve been letting your insults pass nonstop.
    But then, what you demand of others, you never
    apply to yourself.

    When you are told
    by those who know about TRM that there is more
    to it than what your “sources” say, you dismiss
    it as “not plausible”. Yet when it is pointed
    out that you claim “spectacular analytical
    discoveries” that you have nothing to show for
    it, you say “hey, trust me, maybe sometime i’ll
    publish them”.

    Let me tell you something: if you had anything
    of value, your character is of the type that
    would have published them a long time ago. The
    fact is that what you do publish is nonsense.
    And doing both nonsense and spectacular
    thing is, well, not very plausible, to understate
    the case.

  34. Curt Monash on November 17th, 2005 7:41 am

    Fabian, right now you’re going beyond even your usual stupidity. My analysis has been extensively published (and quoted) since 1982. That you are, or pretend to be, ignorant of this reflects negatively on both your industry knowledge and your web search abilities. Hell, just my list of awards, while it may not prove anything about the quality of my work, should suffice to show that it wasn’t exactly done in SECRET.

    As for the TRM — you already admitted that you know very little about Required’s implementation of it. It’s too late to backtrack from that confession now. Of course, that’s been obvious ever since you loudly and incorrectly denied that it was a columnar data store …

  35. fabian pascal on November 17th, 2005 2:53 pm

    No, you don’t understand what significant work
    means. Had it been spectacular, you would have
    had some sort of name, reputation, books. You
    have zilch. When somebody says Date, Codd, people
    all over the world who they are. What happens
    when anybody says Monash?

    Moreover, today everybody and his grandma gets
    published somewhere, so that is not indication
    of quality.

    More importantly, anybody who knows anything
    reading your pronouncements sees immediately
    that you dk zilch what you’re talking about.
    That kills any incentive to look into your
    “spectacular discoveries”.

    I repeat: only in America a nobody like you
    can publish statements calling Date a fraud.
    And I already stated the reason for that:
    the industry is chockfull of Monashes.

    Finally, watch out for my site update tomorrow,
    where I demonstrate who the real fraud is.

  36. Curt Monash on November 17th, 2005 5:35 pm

    Good plan. Move your blatherings off of my site, and back to your own.

    And hey — if you do actually get somebody to post something meaningful about Required’s TRM implementation, so much the better. But I’m not holding my breath for that.

  37. fabian pascal on November 17th, 2005 10:10 pm

    It’s easy to get me off your case, as I would
    like nothing better (dealing with
    vociferous ignorami is a pain in the butt).
    All you have to do is stop dumping crap about
    things you don’t know, and stop calling frauds
    whom you won’t be able to even touch with
    respect to contributions and honesty. But I
    won’t hold my breath.

    As to TRM, you still don’t get it, but hey,
    that’s to be expected given your limitations.

  38. Curt Monash on November 18th, 2005 12:01 am

    Fabian,

    For somebody who claims to be an atheist, and to have rejected the communism of his homeland, you sure argue a lot by appealing to “authority.”

    Rather than incorrectly accusing everybody else of being illogical, you maybe should start using some logic yourself. And then you might actually want to look at some FACTS, if those don’t mess up your world too too badly.

    And finally, although your loyalty to Chris Date is on some levels admirable, you might want to wash your nose off from time to time.

    There’s some point beyond which I will lose patience, and block your blatherings from this site. But I do look forward with eager amusement to see what further fabrications you’ll put up on your own pages, and I have no intention of removing all the links to your site you’ve so carefully spammed onto mine.

  39. fabian pascal on November 18th, 2005 6:42 am

    You don’t even know what appeal to authority
    is. The only authority I appeal to is knowledge
    and reason, which you don’t possess.

    You belabor under some illusion that facts by
    themselves are objective and neutral. Nonsense. T
    They can only be interpreted within a
    theoretical framework (to which ignorami
    like you are oblivious). Facts can be irrelevant
    to an argument, have you considered that?

    As to who is being illogical here, just look
    in the mirror. You know as much about facts
    and logic as you know about RM, TRM and data
    management in general.

  40. Curt Monash on November 18th, 2005 6:51 am

    Argument: Are Date and Pascal misleading the public?
    Fact: They are inducing the public to believe false things.

    I’d say that fact passes the relevancy test.

  41. Curt Monash on November 18th, 2005 11:28 am

    Fabian,

    You’re even more divorced from reality than I thought.

    I just read your post/article/whatever that begins:

    “Following various exchanges with Curt Monash and my publication of Monash Balderdash debunking his nonsense, the publisher there posted Monash’s Response to Pascal.

    First, the title is misleading”

    Uh, Fabian — the title is misleading because you’re the one who fabricated it. Typical Pascal — totally fabricate something somebody else said, then criticize them harshly for “saying” it.

    I knew you were out of touch with reality, but I didn’t know you were THAT delusional.

    EDIT: Whoops. I forgot that Seiner slapped a title on what I wrote. Well, it wasn’t my title. And Fabian should know a lot better than to assume writers always get to pick their own titles. So about 90% of the force of what I said above in the original of this comment remains justified.

  42. fabian pascal on February 26th, 2006 4:44 pm

    So you take whatever dissatisfied fired
    employees tell you at face value as “highly
    reliable” information. If you apply to those
    sources the same judgment you apply to
    everything else, including your DBMS2 nothing,
    then it should be obvious how one should treat
    your claims based on those sources.

    BTW, you still dk the difference between
    product and technology. And that does not
    take much brains anyway.

  43. Curt Monash on February 27th, 2006 5:34 am

    Hardly

  44. Scott Ambler on April 25th, 2006 9:57 am

    Sadly, if you step back and observe what’s going on, Chris Date appears to be a Ted Codd wannabee and Pascal a Chris Date wannabee. Date appears to be investing significant time in developing the Tutorial D langauge and the TRM, although there seems to be little chance that either will be implemented successfully (for some reason, the marketplace prefers to focus on viable ideas, darn those capitalists!).

    Instead of complaining about the inadequacies of SQL and modern RDBMSs, and there clearly are some, if Date was actually interested in helping people he’d write about ways to address those problems which could actually be implemented in practice. Unfortunately, Date doesn’t seem willing or able to step up to the challenge.

    Worse yet, Date doesn’t appear to have the skills to implement his vision. Seems to me that if he did he could lead an OSS effort to develop a TRM product, but to do that he’d have to actually be able to build software and garner support for the effort by other people with that set of skills. The only support he seems to get is from a very small minority of theory folks who don’t have concrete development skills. Or, if he had the strength of his convictions he’d back a development effort with his own money, but we don’t see that happening either, do we?

    In the end, I suppose this is for the best from Date’s point of view. He can go to his grave claiming that his vision would have worked, without having to experience the pain of receiving concrete feedback from the marketplace. The marketplace has already rejected a large portion of the relational model, for very good reasons, and is clearly doing the same with the TRM ( as shown by the complete lack of support for it). The theory folks among us will clearly put a different spin on the situation, but then again denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.

    – Scott

  45. Eric on May 17th, 2006 11:06 am

    Scott Ambler wrote:

    Sadly, if you step back and observe what’s going on, Chris Date appears to be a Ted Codd wannabee and Pascal a Chris Date wannabee.

    Based on what? One can’t admire another person without “appearing” to be a “wannebee”? I agree with this chain of admiration; so what? A “wannabee” presumably attempts to behave and appear similar to the subject of devotion; other than their mutual (presumed) commitment to the Relational Model (TRM), is Pascal trying to emulate Date, and Date Codd? This is pointless rhetoric, driven (I assume) by criticisms of you by Pascal on dbdebunk.com (though why Date gets dragged into it, I’m not sure).

    Date appears to be investing significant time in developing the Tutorial D langauge and the TRM, although there seems to be little chance that either will be implemented successfully

    So what he’s developing, then, is a specification or design rather than an implementation. In rational fields, this is the horse placed properly before the cart. I’m curious what Magic 8-Ball he should be consulting, to determine whether a nascent design or idea should be abandoned prior to implementation.

    (for some reason, the marketplace prefers to focus on viable ideas, darn those capitalists!).

    Cute. Viability has nothing to do with it; risk and profitability do. Many never-implemented ideas are technically viable, and many implemented ideas are barely technically viable. Interest in implementation depends on a low perceived risk-to-return ratio, generally. The “marketplace” has no focus; people do. The marketplace is a fine thing, but to disparage an idea based on its current shortage (not lack) of implementation in the market is to deny both future change and the possibility of vision, and of passion and belief regardless of risk.
    None of this requires accepting that TRM / TTM are the greatest ideas ever (although I believe they’re outstanding); it’s a simple set of observations about an ever-alarming worship of The Market as the ultimate critic of all things – including those of the intellect (which presumably software and logic and data are). I hear the background huffing of Darth Vader intoning: “I find your lack of faith in The Market… disturbing.”

    – Eric

  46. Eric on May 17th, 2006 12:07 pm

    Scott Ambler wrote:

    Instead of complaining about the inadequacies of SQL and modern RDBMSs, and there clearly are some, if Date was actually interested in helping people he’d write about ways to address those problems which could actually be implemented in practice.

    This makes several major assumptions: first, that Date’s solutions cannot be implemented in practice, and second, that only addressing problems “helps people.” So do you believe that education only concerns solving immediate problems, rather than forming skills and thought patterns which prepare a foundation on which the learner can construct his or her own solutions?

    Worse yet, Date doesn’t appear to have the skills to implement his vision.

    Perhaps, but on what is this statement based? Even assuming he’s unwilling is a leap; his priorities appear to be advocating the relational model, and education about it. Assuming lack of ability is pointless and insulting.

    Seems to me that if he did he could lead an OSS effort to develop a TRM product, but to do that he’d have to actually be able to build software and garner support for the effort by other people with that set of skills.

    And he’d have to want to lead a team, and take time away from his other activities; but since there are open source relational projects (e.g. Rel, and there are others), perhaps he should just join them? Then again, if he’d been building software all this time, would the theory be where it is? Would there be enough material to support the (admittedly small number of) developers who are working on these things?
    Not everyone who has a good idea has the time and willingness, and management skills, to organize and lead a team. In fact, I’d say the majority of scientists and inventors and creators of all stripes have lacked management and leaderships skills. That’s what management, investment, and commerce are for, among other things.

    The only support he seems to get is from a very small minority of theory folks who don’t have concrete development skills.

    Cute – on what are you basing their lack of development skills? For that matter, on what are you basing your statements about Date’s support network – on newsgroup postings?

    Or, if he had the strength of his convictions he’d back a development effort with his own money, but we don’t see that happening either, do we?

    This is amusing – so despite all of scientific and industrial history, the only creators / inventors / scientists who are worthy of your esteem are those who ponied up their own cash? Does this apply to authors, who by the same argument should only be read if they are self-published?

    In the end, I suppose this is for the best from Date’s point of view. He can go to his grave claiming that his vision would have worked, without having to experience the pain of receiving concrete feedback from the marketplace.

    This makes the ugly assumption that Date’s primary motive is a drive to be a bitter curmudgeon, to rail against the rest of the world. Nothing in his writing supports that view, and his criticisms of industry and SQL, for example, are rational ones, not rantings. We live in a very sorry world if the best validation we can hope for us from The Marketplace.

    The marketplace has already rejected a large portion of the relational model, for very good reasons

    Could you enumerate these good reasons? I have yet to hear a single good one. And which “large portion” was rejected, and which accepted?

    and is clearly doing the same with the TRM ( as shown by the complete lack of support for it).

    TRM == The Relational Model. Do you mean TTM (The Third Manifesto)? Or are you referring to Tutorial D, the example language Date and Darwen created?

    The theory folks among us will clearly put a different spin on the situation, but then again denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.

    The situation is what it is; commercial use of true relational databases is nonexistent, or at best confined to those using Dataphor or Rel. What denial are you talking about? How long, exactly, do we entertain an idea before we give up on it? How long was O-O a niche idea, “rejected by the marketplace,” and had you been active at that time, would you have campaigned against it, or at least against its supporters?

  47. Eric on May 18th, 2006 2:58 pm

    I mistakenly wrote:

    the Relational Model (TRM)

    My mistkae: TRM is what people have been using for the TransRelational Model.

  48. Eric on May 18th, 2006 2:59 pm

    My mistkae

    Um… yeah. These conversations with myself are apparently degrading to both of us.

  49. Curt Monash on May 19th, 2006 7:19 am

    Eric,

    While my views are similar to Scott’s, they’re not identical, and I’d rather defend my version of the ideas than his.

    But I do think you’re underrating what can be inferred from the lack of vendor adoption of certain technical strategies. There are a LOT of different DBMS architectures that get significant amounts of vendor and/or investor cash. The reason they get this cash is because people who are (at least as a group) well-qualified to make such judgments believe they can be successfully and profitably sold. “True relational” and/or “TTM” aren’t just losing out to one or a few quasi-relational approaches; they’re losing out to DOZENS of other technical strategies.

    So what are the criteria by which one judges whether a data management product can be successfully and profitably sold? Those criteria (and here I’m speaking from a great deal of personal expertise, as is evidenced by my resume of consulting to the industry) really do revolve around whether or not it would be economically benefecial to enterprises to use these products.

    Now, relational advocates draw a distinction that I think can be fairly accurately paraphrased as distinguishing between “Usefulness in the real world” (what The Market is an almost-undeniably good measure of) and “Usefulness in The World The Way It Should Be”. But before I go on to address that counterargument, I’ll pause to check whether it’s the counterargument you’re actually making.

  50. Eric on May 19th, 2006 11:12 am

    Curt wrote:

    There are a LOT of different DBMS architectures that get significant amounts of vendor and/or investor cash. The reason they get this cash is because people who are (at least as a group) well-qualified to make such judgments believe they can be successfully and profitably sold.

    Probably true, but I’m not disputing this, except perhaps the definition of “such judgments” (judgments about what? I was referring to the apparently unconscious shift from discussions about technical judgments, into those about market judgments).
    Presumably vendors and investors are doing some technical analysis to determine feasibility, but profitability depends also (primarily?) on the perceived state of the market, the perceived ability to spur demand, etc. I’d wager that the final decision has lamentably little to do with the technical quality of the product or its ideas. Saleability is key, right?

    “True relational” and/or “TTM” aren’t just losing out to one or a few quasi-relational approaches; they’re losing out to DOZENS of other technical strategies.

    Losing out? SQL is still top dog, and while I have little evidence other than its history (displacing other “data models” in short order), I believe it’s based on its proximity to relational, rather than its distance. You know the DBMS market far better than I do, and I’ve seen your discussions of XML and OLAP and other features, but by and large they’re built atop SQL DBMSs. It’s difficult to have the discussion without separating add-on tools, fundamentally different data models, and implementation details – and the way they’re bundled.

    So what are the criteria by which one judges whether a data management product can be successfully and profitably sold? Those criteria (and here I’m speaking from a great deal of personal expertise, as is evidenced by my resume of consulting to the industry) really do revolve around whether or not it would be economically benefecial to enterprises to use these products.

    Not directly; or at least it’s an assumption. Why do you say they “really do”? How do you know, or how would you know otherwise if that were the case? Selling a product doesn’t require any such knowledge – or at the very least, they require only a vague belief in the efficacy of the product. They also don’t require any comparison; all a sales force has to believe is that they want to sell. Hopefully they believe in the product, or at least their company; I’m not positing widespread deceipt here. But selling people what they want, however noble, has no bearing on whether they actually need it, nor on whether better solutions exist, nor whether the salesman knows anything other than what they’re trying to sell.
    Once more, with feeling: I’m not painting salesmen and consultants as snake oil salesmen here. I’m simply pointing out that marketing and hype exert a strong influence, and if your audience seems to want X(ML), why should you deny them? Why deny them what they want, when it’s so obvious? Why go through the pain of a careful comparison to alternatives? Why gamble the company’s investments on new technologies not related to past successes? There are perfectly rational (though disappointing) reasons to do the obvious and uninspired thing. It’s the role of consumers to educate themselves (and educators to inspire a love of learning), though we’re often disappointed in the results. I expect companies, and the market, to do exactly what you’re describing! I’m only assuming the most beneficial of motives to such a position.

    Now, relational advocates draw a distinction that I think can be fairly accurately paraphrased as distinguishing between “Usefulness in the real world” (what The Market is an almost-undeniably good measure of)

    This is just silly. Every new technology (and I’m not referring to simple one-offs on existing stuff) begins with a period of high risk, low acceptance, and perhaps the complete absence of a market. How would you have ranked the “usefulness” of computers, or ARPANET, or early stem cell research, using commercial knowledge? Again, “good measure” as compared to what? At the very least you have to admit that the most popular products generate press and copycat products, leading to a dilution in available media of information about altneratives. Clearly if a product stinks, consumers will abandon it; the ones that stick and stink are those that are just barely good enough, and better than what came before. I think you underestimate the power of “just barely good enough.” The world will beat a path to your door if you have a better mousetrap, but when transition costs are high, only if their current mousetrap really sucks.
    And even assuming you know the market can properly measure “usefulness” (I’m curious how you know it’s a good measure, rather than a poor or mediocre one, and what you’re comparing it with), over what time frame? Has relational had enough time? Too much? Are good ideas ever resurrected decades after their inception and initial failure?

    and “Usefulness in The World The Way It Should Be”). But before I go on to address that counterargument, I’ll pause to check whether it’s the counterargument you’re actually making.

    No, I’m not going to make crank rants about the way the world ought to be, though each of us probably has our thoughts on that subject. I’m not even railing against the market; simply disputing its value as a fetish for either group of extremists, and advocating that we, as technologists in various degrees, at least try to advocate technologies on technical merits, rather than blindly following the market. Yes, we all have to eat, but it’s undeniable that passion and belief and dedication (however dryly expressed by geeks and nerds) have had some role in technological development. Without it, there’s nothing to market. It just appears to be that the balance of attention even in the development community has shifted unnecessarily away from technical merit toward profitability, and thus hype and groupthink thrive.

  51. Al on May 29th, 2006 11:14 am

    Although the TransRelational concept was promising, it exploded due largely
    to the “inventers should never run businesses” truism. Steve Tarin and his
    lawyers were the only ones who made any money in this venture (he’s currently
    in hiding), and investers are licking their wounds. FYI, I chuckle everytime
    I see the term “TransRelational” — I came up with it, trying to combine it’s
    promise with the high teck sounding Star Trek TransWarp term.

  52. Curt Monash on May 29th, 2006 3:44 pm

    Al,

    Your opinion is of course shared by most former company insiders. I strongly
    suspect it is the correct one, although I don’t want to say so emphatically
    because I’ve really only heard one side of the story.

    Of course, that’s not due to lack of trying. I attempted to contact the
    remaining shell of the company — i.e., Steve Tarin — for comment,
    and never heard back. And I repeatedly asked Fabian Pascal to give some kind
    of evidence for his claims; that naturally got me nowhere.

    Where I get confrontational about TransRelational is when people like Date
    or Pascal claim that it is relevant to a critique of OLTP DBMS products, and
    especially when Date charges sums of money for presenting this idea that only
    makes sense to the payers if they’re learning something that will help them
    manage their businesses in the near future. That’s just a wrongful act on
    his part, and I hope that as more light as been shed on his actions, he’s
    cut it out for good — unless, of course, somebody DOES advance the technology
    some day. I’m not aware of him selling any full-day seminar tickets about
    TransRelational since last fall, so maybe we’ve made progress on that front.

  53. Nathan Myers on September 6th, 2006 4:40 am

    I don’t know from TRM, but I wrote the original code for RT to implement their on-disk storage: essentially, a journaled filesystem. I can say with authority that it was optimized for sequential reads and append-only writes. I doubt that fact actually settles anything, but at least it’s a fact. I’m partial to facts.

  54. Curt Monash on September 7th, 2006 11:35 pm

    Thanks, Nathan.

    While I’ve been saying “Columnar systems have their advantages in query performance, and RT’s seems to have been a clever columnar architecture,” I didn’t focus on the point that one of those advantages is the ability to make more of the reads sequential.

    Considering the fuss I’ve been making recently about sequential-vs.-random, that’s pretty embarrassing.

    CAM

  55. Nathan Myers on September 17th, 2006 2:28 am

    Curt,

    Embarrassing you is the last thing I meant to do. Embarrassing Fabian would be more interesting, but would be much harder, for obvious reasons in no way related to his overarching intelligence.

  56. Curt Monash on September 17th, 2006 3:26 am

    Nathan,

    No, no. I appreciate it. Sometimes I need a good thwack with the cluebat.

    And I really appreciate your main point. While I don’t expect the folks who’ve been touting RT to publicly eat crow, I hope they’ll at least refrain from making new spoutings on the subject.

    As for Fabian feeling embarrassed — I guess for that to happen he’d first have to believe that any of his failures or errors were, at least partially, his fault. And not just in the sense that he didn’t realize how awful people were, or the industry was, or universities were, or the United States was, or whatever …

    CAM

  57. Curt Monash on September 17th, 2006 4:04 pm

    Rereading bits of this thread, I see I left a discussion with Eric hanging some months ago.

    It’s my contention that if a technology deserves market success, it has a good chance of getting it. Eric seems to find this counter-intuitive, or at least contrary to experience. So let me clarify by saying that this only applies to technologies and products that are or can straightforwardly be made to be SUFFICIENTLY COMPLETE, and that I mean this in the Geoffrey Moore/Crossing the Chasm sense of “whole product”. (Yeah, yeah, I know Moore didn’t innovate the “whole product” idea — but unless you recall who actually DID, please don’t object to my giving him credit for interpreting and popularizing it.)

  58. Al on March 13th, 2009 11:39 pm
  59. Ed on April 30th, 2009 8:46 pm

    I see there hasn’t been much conversation on this issue as of late. While I have little to contribute to the technical side, I highly doubt as if any work has been done to advance this technology.
    Upon research of the history of this company, in an effort to find any sort of confirmation of the technical validity of Required Technologies, I have found that not only is the company no longer incorporated in either Delaware or California, it also is indebt taxes in Delaware. Yes, in debt to the extent that any sort of revitalization would only be possible if the patents were completed turned over to someone else from Stephen Tarin.
    I read at one point the Stephen Tarin had his technology stolen and was fighting to keep it, and that “investors shouldn’t run businesses.” Sometimes the creator should not be the CEO. My understanding is that Mr. Tarin isn’t in hiding; he is down on his luck. Perhaps if Tarin hadn’t been so controlling of this potential technology it would have been fully developed, instead of being a theory in an appendix that’s nearly ignored in an out of date textbook.

  60. Anon on May 27th, 2009 8:46 am

    Trust me, he’s in hiding. Aside from the money owed to Delaware, Mr. Tarin owes huge amounts of accrued and unpaid vacation to all of the employees, who were never even properly “laid off” so to speak. There are at least 20 decisions against the company in the state of CA. I personally have one worth in the five digits at the time of issue, and has grown daily.

  61. Al on August 27th, 2009 8:27 pm

    It looks like his wife, the former Bridget Stabile, is currently working in Menlo Park, so I’d guess he’s hiding in plain sight.
    http://www.sheppardmullin.com/offices-11.html

    Or that could be a different Bridget Stabile, or they could have gotten divorced . . . . . .

  62. Lonny on November 10th, 2009 9:29 pm

    The Bridget Stabile working in Menlo Park is the one who was involved with Steve Tarin. They never married and are no longer together. The child they had together was born in 2000.

  63. Al on January 2nd, 2010 4:09 pm

    They were married, if not legally then common law, and my guess is that they are still together. No way Steve or Bridget give up custody of the child to the other.

  64. Lonny on June 11th, 2010 9:05 am

    Very nasty custody and visitation battle. Whoever has more money and clout wins. Court records exist somewhere.

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