Stonebraker on Oracle and SQL

Stonebraker on Oracle and SQL

Summary: Going from Quel to SQL is like going from APL to COBOL

TOPICS: Microsoft

In the long run I'd be surprised if the research done or inspired by Berkeley's Michael Stonebraker doesn't ultimately have more of an effect on the world than Linux. Ingres and Informix were his, so is PostGres.

In exploring current versions of that product I stumbled over an interview he did with Robert Westervelt in November, 2004.

The thing is worth reading in its entirety, but what comes across most clearly is the baffled bitterness technical people feel when inferior products win in the marketplace. Here are two somewhat unrepresentative, but thought provoking, bits:


RW: Is SQL really such a crummy query language?

Stonebraker: The whole nesting construct is a lousy idea. If you write a nested query the semantics of SQL evaluates that from inside to outside. It's terribly inefficient. But no one ever said that the best technical solution wins. IBM marketing knew SQL was a bad language and decided to release DB2 anyway and push SQL. So SQL will be the COBOL in the year 2020. We're stuck with it, everybody hates it because it's a lousy language and we have IBM to thank for foisting that one on us. Quel was universally better. It was a much cleaner language.

I've used both, going from Quel to SQL is like going from APL to COBOL.


RW: What were some other factors that caused Oracle to dominate Ingres?

Stonebraker: I think the thing I find most depressing is that Oracle succeeded with an inferior product and what's happening is that similar tactics are generally being applied by Microsoft. The thing that bugs me the most is that customers put up with this. They were writing the checks to Oracle and to Microsoft on future promises and lousy products. So the IT community has sort of fostered this on themselves.

Tell me about it.

Topic: Microsoft

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  • Check and balance

    This is another example of reality in the world of code. Open source is the force that challanges the market today. The pressure is on in a big way. Support is the key to sucsess and it's becomming harder to lie about how great the support is.

    There is alot (everything) built around SQL today. I don't see it going away time soon. In fact it will become the freeware buitin as a new DB languages form. This is the big problem today. How to we find all the information we have. How do we cross referance and make relationships to so many different types of data and info?
  • Where's jorwell?

    I'm SURE he has some commentary about this . . .
    Roger Ramjet
  • The modern alternative to SQL

    See Date and Darwen's Third Manifesto.

    Their proposals show how SQL can be gradually superceded and replaced with a superior language. The change does not have to be revolutionary.
  • RE: Stonebraker on Oracle and SQL

    Bet you're wishing you didn't stab you? in the back NOW, huh?
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  • Stonebraker on Oracle and SQL

    Good analysis!It is very kind of you that you can take time from your busy scheduel, the article is full of rich information,I bet the reader can benefit from it more or less.
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