The Future of Database Research

In a recent talk, I said that Academic Research had been surpassed by industrial research as far as databases are concerned. Bill McIver wrote to me that he disagreed.

I have an edge over Bill when it comes to arguing: I have a blog and he doesn’t.

I would say the best way for academia to be useful, is to be totally out there. To be wild. To jump all over industry, to go where they would never dare going. The database research community has been too conservative. But whether you buy this or not, the fact that the database community has said “we need to jump out and stop hanging around the relational model” is a fact, not an opinion:

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.

(Source: The Lowell database research self-assessment, May 2005)

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Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

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