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Report: 2008 Berkeley Database Self-Assessment (Posted by Hector Garcia-Molina)

Periodically, a group of self-anointed database "experts" meet to assess the state of the database field. The most recent of these self-assessment meetings was held at Berkeley, CA May 29-30, 2008.

The Berkeley meeting (above) was the fifth in the series.

The four earlier meetings were held in Laguna Beach 1988, Stanford 1990, Asilomar 1998, and Lowell (MA) 2003. After each of the meetings, a report has been written. The previous reports can be found at:
Typically, each report is written by one or two of the participants, trying to summarize the discussion at the meeting. The rest of the participants get to put their name on the report after providing comments. The report does not capture everyone's opinion, and more than once I have been surprised to find material in the report that I did not recall hearing at the meeting. But that is not a bad thing: The reports are usually more coherent than the meetings!

At this year's meeting, many of the same topics from previous years made an appearance: data integration, privacy and scalability are some old-time favorites. However, some "new" topics made an appearance (by new I mean new to these reports). For instance, this time we discussed social networking and virtual worlds as two applications that may require new data management technology.

The topic that generated the most passionate discussion was that of academic publications and conferences. Given that the meeting was a few days after VLDB rejection notices had been mailed out, it is not surprising that people were complaining about the poor review process these days. It seems reviewers are more interested in looking for ways to kill a paper ("my paper was not cited", "the margins are a nanometer too wide", "the idea is useful but there are not enough theorems") than in identifying promising ideas that will have impact. I suspect there will not be much discussion on this topic in the workshop report, as it was felt that these issues are best handled by the organizations that run conferences, such as SIGMOD, VLDB and ICDE. I would not hold my breath...

After the workshop, all participants attended the Jim Gray Tribute May 31, also at Berkeley.

There were about 800 participants at the tribute (above). It was a very moving event. It was great to see so many friends from the database and systems communities, but it was unfortunate that it took Jim's disappearance to bring us all together.

We'll let all of our Stanford InfoBlog readers know when the report for the 2008 Berkeley self-assessment appears... Stay tuned.

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