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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • I wouldn't beat yourself up too much. He has a theory. A theory that he hasn't been able to implement, nor find someone else to implement, in 35 years. A theory that no commercial implementation has felt particularly compelled to follow to the letter, and which we've managed to do without.

    But, hey, at least we have a (partial) implementation of Tutorial D to replace SQL. That only took 35 years! Woot!

    This isn't to say that things couldn't be better. But writing about it and actually *implementing*

    • There's a possible equivocation on the word "theory". Date means theory in the scientific sense, not in the popular sense of "opinion" or "guess". The relational theory is well-grounded in set theory and predicate logic. This is a large body of mathematical theory which has been built upon since the ancient Greeks. Since even the crippled understanding of relational theory which most "experts" rely on is ignored by the masses, it's quite understandable to me that database vendors, following the herd, are unable to appreciate the math behind relational theory. This is similar to what we see every time some amateur comes up with their own crippled "XML variation", for example.

      Date argues that we would not second guess an architect who understands how to build a skyscraper. Nor should we second guess aeronautical engineers designing a helicopter. In the case of databases, the people doing the building are creating crippled implementations which usually don't kill anyone. As a result, since the crippled variants "work", people challenge Date to prove that the math of the relational model provides business value. Instead, he argues, either show that the math is wrong or demonstrate how the "ad hoc" implementations which exist today provide a great value beyond "this is what we have and we're going to stick with it". I'm not saying Date is right (I don't have the math background for it but my work with logic programming suggests to me that he's not wrong), but his challenge is valid. Why should we settle for broken stuff that we can patch with bandages and bailing wire when it's long been known that there's a mathematically proven model that is both more correct and potentially easier to work with?