June 5, 2010


I talked Friday with Chris Piedemonte and Gary Sherman, respectively the Cofounder/CTO and Chief Mathematician of Algebraix, who hooked up together for this project back in 2003 or 2004. (Algebraix is the company formerly known as XSPRADA.) Algebraix makes an analytic DBMS, somewhat based on the ideas of extended set theory, that runs on SMP (Symmetric MultiProcessing) boxes. Like all analytic DBMS vendors, Algebraix has on some occasions run some queries orders of magnitude faster than they ran on the systems users were looking to replace.

Algebraix’s secret sauce is that the DBMS keeps reorganizing and recopying the data on disk, to optimize performance in response to expected query patterns (automatically inferred from queries it’s seen so far). This sounds a lot like the Infobright story, with some of the more obvious differences being: 

So far as I can tell, that’s about it. Experience teaches that when a small company claims that some big mathematical breakthrough lets it have huge product superiority in DBMS or analytic tools, the claim doesn’t pan out. Maybe the company has good technology somewhat inspired by the mathematics, but the more breathless claims are always overwrought. Examples include Infobright (rough set theory), CrossZ/QueryObject (fractals), and KXEN (support vector machines). Algebraix (extended set theory) shows every sign of being another such case. An extended discussion about whether or not join operations are commutative – without benefit of any examples of their supposed non-commutativity – did little to convince me otherwise.

Finally, as per email from diligent PR guy David King,


3 Responses to “Algebraix”

  1. Extended set theory, aka “What is a tuple anyway?” | DBMS2 -- DataBase Management System Services on June 5th, 2010 4:56 am

    […] Algebraix folks are trying to repopularize David Childs’ idea of “Extended set theory.” In a […]

  2. David Childs | Software Memories on June 5th, 2010 4:58 am

    […] to Algebraix reminded me that David Childs is still alive and kicking. I only ever encountered Childs once, in […]

  3. Jerome Pineau on June 6th, 2010 5:18 am

    Wow, they finally managed to get you to talk about them (if not in super positive way – bad publicity still beats none)! Never thought I’d see the day! 🙂


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