After a long journey from Paris yesterday I've arrived in Dallas, Texas for the October Rules Fest. I will be blogging the sessions I attend and I hope to catch up on the blog backlog that has built over the past few weeks. We've been heads-down on JRules 7 recently so please accept my apologies for the blogging lapse. The product should make up for it however!
"If I want to manage change, I need those drawings, that architecture..."
The keynote presentation by Dr. Leon A. Kappelman presented the Zachman enterprise architecture world-view. Although useful, I suspect the talk was rather high-level for the technical, implementation focused, audience. He discussed ontologies, as well as the overall role of enterprise architecture. His talk did provide useful context and introduction of the rest of the day however.
"Optimizing the whole as well as the parts..."
Rolando Hernandez followed up with an informative and amusing summary of system failures using real-world examples and rules for reference. He then transitioned into a Letterman style "Top Ten" list of best practices for avoiding system failure. He finished with a discussion of the differences between rule-based programming and traditional procedural programming as well as the typical benefits: centralization, consistency, accessibility to the business etc. He also placed the rules approach within the general context of the Zachman framework and enterprise architecture.
Lawrence Terrill then dived into the differences between procedural and declarative (rules-based) programming. Lawrence has been giving JRules training for many years and his depth of real-world experience showed in his presentation. He also touched on OOP and Domain Specific Languages. I thought his presentation was extremely concise and clear. If this is something you are interested in I recommend you check out his slides.
Dr. Gopal Gupta took us back to the 80s with a fascinating review of the Japanese 5th Generation project. He used the failures of the project to highlight the inherent challenges of declarative parallel programming and argued that the project was ahead of its time. He described the features that have been added to Prolog over the past 30 years to help overcome the initial limitations.
Jason Morris dove into the "modern expert system shell", ontologies and their relationship. He essentially described the challenge of extracting expert knowledge into an expert system shell. His presentation made me feel young again, quietly reminiscing about sitting in a Knowledge Representation AI MSc lecture at Edinburgh University! It's quite fascinating to me that we are seeing a lot of the "old school" papers and books being referenced once again by a new generation of engineers.
The day finished with two talks from the Drools guys, the first one on their temporal reasoning (CEP) extensions for Rete, the second on their web-based rule management environment. The CEP presentation was more technically interesting to me, while the second strayed into product-pitch territory -- earning them a rebuke from James Owen, the Master of Ceremonies! Of course I would have liked them to acknowledge more of the work all the commercial vendors have done in both these spaces...
Overall I'd give the day a 'B' grade. I got to chat with some of our customers, as well as attendees from other companies and universities. There are a broad range of interests represented, but so far the conference has lived up to its technical billing. Tomorrow I will present with Keith Lindsey from UBS. Wish us luck!