Third day just starting. This supposed to be the "meat" of the conference. We had desert the first day. Veggies the second day. Raw meat today. Brief recap of the most memorable presentations:
--- Wednesday ---
Rolando Hernandez did a great explanation of Zachman's framework showing how rules fit into the the enterprise. Several Red Hat guys (not the Drools guys) commented that this was what they needed; something that was not so geeky but at a higher level.
Jason Morris: Great talk on Ontology, a subject that few rulebase people ever consider since most are not AI graduates but probably computer science and C/C++ or Java geeks who just drifted into the field.
Edson Terelli: Covered what Drools is doing with the early stages of Complex Event Processing without drifting too much into a product demonstration, something that seems really difficult for the Drools guys because they are all so hyped by their own product. Even Dr. Frogy commented that the talk was really good.
Michael Neal stayed home with his pregnant spousal unit who was due on Thursday of ORF week.
Kris Verlaenen stepped up to delive Mic's talk Guvnor. But he got interrupted by yours truly when he announced that he would now do a Drools demo, something that is totally against the spirit of ORF. I'm sure that his talk would be perfectly suited for some other forum, perhaps a Drools marketing seminar or Java User's Group somewhere but not here. So, we got some wires crossed and Mark Proctor's personality and mine crossed for a few minutes and the talk was over. Me? I blame Mic for hanging Kris out to dry like that. :-)
Pub Night One turned out to be OK since most of us just sat around the hotel lounge and swapped war stories. Some went to supper at one place and some to others.
--- Thursday ---
Dr. Dan Levine opened with a keynote of how the human brain process various thoughts, rules and emotions. I think that knowing how rules are processed in the brain would play a very important role in knowledge acquisition. After all, this whole field owes the origins to the psychology field.
Carole Ann Berlioz-Matigon: Showed us the "other world" of Business Intelligence and Business Analytics and how a rulebase fit into that environment, especially the score card part. I think that most rulebase guys rarely consider that rules play a small part of an overall enterprise IT approach such as that provided by Fair Isaac and other companies.
Carlow Seranno-Morales: Covered Enterprise Decision Management (EDM) from front to back in a gritty (fairly technical) point-of-view. What he and Carole Ann demonstrated was that a rulebase is not the complete answer for a large enterprise - rather it takes of vendors and products that are tightly integrated and rules can be only a small part (sometimes 1/10) of the total solution. The two talks were excellent.
Daniel Selman gave a presentation on sequential rules that verged on product marketing but stayed just out of reach of the "the hook". One thing that he said was that ILOG has a product that is called Rete Non-Node-Merging or something like that. Rete without node merges is not Rete and Dr. Forgy confirmed it later.
Pub Night Two proved to be another bust but lots of great conversations because of the many groups. One such group was composed of Dr. Forgy, Dr. Hicks, Mark Proctor, Gary Riley, Edson Terelli and myself with Steve Nunez joining late. I wish that we had a recorder for what we discussed but one thing came out of it: a slide for my presentation the next day. :-)
--- Friday ---
Rick Hicks: Validation and Verification - mostly verification. This guy is the guru of gurus on this subject and has created modules for CLIPS, OPSJ, Jess and others. He is a professor at Texas A&M but he has his own company, EZ-Xpert. He has published several white papers on his two-tier system; these papers explain WHAT any verification system needs to do to be called a verification system. Excellent talk. Of course he seems to believe that all of the Conflict Resolution Strategies are wrong and that inference engines are most times not needed. See the site for his paper or video presentation.
Gary Riley: (inventor of CLIPS, C Language Integrated Production System) who started at NASA and has been working on the one set of code for 23 years. Being free (or $300 from Comix, the official vendor for CLIPS) this is the "standard" by which so many other rulebased systems are judged. Gary was a very capable speaker and led us deeper into the labyrinth of CLIPS. Beginning with the early days of CLIPS and the reasons for why he did things. He stressed that we need more documentation and many, many more examples to aid the users to understand the systems. Speed is essential. He also talked about how he improved performance on the CLIPS system. A really excellent presentation.
Mark Proctor: (inventor of Drools) did a great discussion on pattern matching, collections, from, etc. Mark also discussed more on multiple entry points on rules for parallel processing.
James Owen: (Yours Truly) Gave a substitute talk (Gary stole my benchmark presentation!) on the original 1979 Rete Algorithm, a second part on the Four Forms of Chaining and, finally, a really brief, four-minute introduction to The History of Parallel Rulebased Programming.
Dr. Charles Forgy gave us a heads up on Parallel Rulebased Programming and why it will be the future of rulebased programming. From what he presented, we, as rulebased systems professionals, need to plan how to parallelize our products and services. Excellent presentation.
Yaakov Kohen showed up and listened in. Interesting fellow.
Pub Night Three turned out pretty good since about 25 of us went to Bone Daddy's, a popular Texas Bar-B-Que joint in North Dallas. Kind of like Hooters but with much younger girls. The food is so good that my wife takes me there from time to time. I'm not allowed to go by myself. :-)
--- Conference Wrap-up ---
LOOONNNGG session on what we wanted more of, less of, suggestions, questions, etc. I hope Rolando and Greg took good notes because we ran out of film before we got very far into it. Here is what little that I gathered:
What attendees want:
1. More question time
2. More time for talks.
3. Donuts and Bagels for breakfast
(David Butler brought donuts on Thursday)
4. Warmer room / Cooler Room / Dimmer Room / Brighter Room
5. MORE Technical talks and less B.S. about products UNLESS it was applicable
6. Maybe two tracks next time; one for beginners and one for Uber Geeks.
7. BOOKS on the subject - what we have is old
8. How To Books on the subject
9. Field is too hard to get into and understand
10. Three days is just about right, not five and not two.
However, we did point out that even selling the few shirts that we had we would probably lose money on the event so everyone agreed that the event should be between $300 and $500 next year (if there is a next year) to help pay for expenses. Apparently setting the cost to $150 to encourage students backfired on us since not one student from the USA attended and only one from the UK.
BTW, if you are an attendee and did not get a shirt and want one, let me know - for a mere $35 + ($10 S/H USA - $15 for outside USA) we'll send you one. Just let us know your size of S / M / L / XL / XXL / XXXL. Greg and I both wear an XXL and Edson Terelli took a Medium so judge accordingly.
My conclusions: Great presentations, good coffee, nice folks. For once, it was about 90% Geek and 10% marketing / sales rather than the other way around. If you missed, maybe next year at ORF 2009.
Last thing: Only one person had a comment about my photo. The photo is that of person (a really good friend of mine) throwing a flying side-snap kick with perfect form. What you don't see in the picture is that the person is about 6 feet tall and weighs 215 pounds at the time. If you could see the whole photo you would see that his striking foot is about 5'6" above the ground and he is not using a trampoline to get that high - just lots and lots of training and determination. It proves one thing; success is not easy but it can be done with hard work, determination, proper training and an extremely positive mind set. That's why I keep the photo around - to remind me to keep going when the going gets tough. (Yeah, it's corny but it's true.) Most failures happen because people just give up and begin to see how they can salvage the most from a failure.
Our field is not an easy one and entry to the top level will never be easy. Reading and hard study hurts the head. Planning hurts more. But remember the Seven P's: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. Also, it is not practice that makes perfect but Proper Perfect Practice Makes Matchless Perfect Performance. (Say that one three times fast!)
Who stole my spring?? - After a nice 20C degrees day yesterday, I woke up this morning to this:
3 years ago