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XLDB Expands as Interest from Science and Industry Grows

(Image - XLDB logo)

The fourth annual Extremely Large Databases Workshop and Conference begins at SLAC today. All day today, an invitation-only workshop will preserve the benefits of the open discussion format of previous XLDB events. New this year, the XLDB meeting will also incorporate a two-day conference, held Wednesday and Thursday in Kavli Auditorium.

"Almost every single industry is dealing with more and more information," said conference Chair and SLAC database engineer Jacek Becla, noting the demand for a larger XLDB venue. Among the new attendees at this year's conference are representatives from the oil and gas, medical informatics and finance industries.

Begun in 2007, the annual XLDB meetings focus on finding practical solutions to the problem of how to store, access and analyze an ever-increasing deluge of data. For example, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is expected to generate more than one hundred petabytes (more than 1015 bytes) of processed data over a ten-year operating period. And it is not just science that is producing such astronomical amounts of information. Credit card companies, for example, track billions of transactions world-wide. One of the benefits of the XLDB workshops has been their ability to bring together such a wide range of people. Participants discuss common challenges, such as time-series analysis or outlier detection on uncertain data, that face both commercial and scientific ventures.

In just four short years the workshops have already led to the creation of a new open-source database engine, SciDB. After previewing a prototype of the technology at last year's XLDB workshops and the Very Large Database conference, VLDB, in Lyon, France, developers released the first version of the system just few days ago.

The XLDB events continue to attract an expanding guest list. Companies as diverse as VISA, Exxon Mobile and LinkedIn, and countries as far away as Japan, Australia, Brazil and Russia, are sending participants. In addition to discussing the future of database development, this year's attendees will be treated to a quintessentially California experience, as they participate in the Stanford/SLAC earthquake drill scheduled for October 7. So far, the drill hasn't dissuaded any conference goers. Conference registration has had to close, limited by the number of seats in Kavli Auditorium. 

—Catherine Meyers
SLAC Today, October 4, 2010