Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Study, study and more study (JSB)


I have just written a rather lengthy blog on the woes and travails of the programmer trolls and mostly dealing with how hard are our lives. Then, leaving it for a while to incubate (as is my wont upon occasion) I continued my reading on "Bach" - a rather large compendium on the boy and the man, Johan Sebastian Bach (there were many Germans in his area named Bach), dealing in minute detail with his life, friends, studies and teachers. At just before the age of 15 he left his home in Thurengia (as well as Ohrdruf and Eisenach) and traveled 200 miles (mostly on foot) north with his close friend who was 18 years old (Georg Erdman) to Luneburg, a city much larger (10,000 residents) than his native home of the Bach family. This was also so that the could be close to the town of Hamburg that was home to the largest and most fabulous organs in the world at that time. His study at St. Michael's church was very prestigious and each class consisted of only 20 noblemen's sons as well as a few highly-gifted singers and musicians.

Students at this Ritter-Academie studied
  • theology
  • philosophy
  • classics
  • ethics
  • politics
  • history
  • mathematics
  • physics
  • French
  • riding
  • fencing
  • dancing
All designed to turn out a well-rounded person in a program in keeping with the civil, military and social obligations of the German aristocracy. The academic year began at Easter and, in addition to the normal classes, Johan Sebastian Bach also had to study (for the first two years at age 15):
  • Leonhard Hutter's Compendium locorum theologicorum (Wittenberg , 1610) - a reference work that required a didactic memorization of questions and answers of a complex nature
  • Chrstoph Reyher's Systema logicum (Gotha, 1691) who first volume (Prolegomena logica de natura logicae) focuses on the definitions of fundamental terms
  • Heinrich Tolle's Rhetorica Gottingensis (Gottingen, 1680) - a concise summary of Aristotelian rhetoric
  • Latin Classes included Virgil's Bucolica and Aeneid, Book IV and Cicero's De Catinlina.
  • Further classes in Latin and Greek
  • Monograph on Alexander the Great by Quitus Curtius Rufus
  • Cicero's De officiis
  • Selections from Cicero's Epistolae
  • Horace's Carmina
  • Kebes of Thebe (Cebetis Tabula)
  • Phocylides
  • Isocrates
  • Theoginis
  • German Hisory
  • Geography
  • German Poetry
  • Mathematics (advanced)
  • Physics (advanced)
  • Modern History
  • Modern Geography
  • Modern Physics
And ALL is this was the "core" of their studies. In order to pay for this schooling they were members of (lowly paid) choirs - usually four or five - and played various parties and gatherings. In addition, they studied fencing, dancing and Sebastian taught himself Italian. All of this is contained in "Johan Sebastian BACH, The Learned Musician" by Christophf Wolff, ISBN 978-0-393-32256-9 ot 0-393-32256-4, depending on which ISBN numbering system is being used by the vendor. My copy was published by W. W. Norton, New York / London. They were very, very busy little boys (young men) who slept very little and ate whatever they could find in the up-scale courts and parties.

All of this to apologize for my earlier complaints that we lowly programming trolls might be overworked. Perhaps we are not worked hard enough and we are raised in a society that values the family and social groups more than one's own work and career. Whatever... I'm much too old to change now but perhaps this might inspire some younger folks to study more and play less? :-)


Monday, December 6, 2010

What is a Rule Repository?


What is a Rule Repository? What does it do? Why have one? Believe it or not, I actually went out to everyone in the industry that I could think of who might have an opinion, searched the web, went to my old text books on rulebased systems and this is all I can come up with. My friends came up with everything from “Who needs it if you have CVS?” to “Absolutely Critical and 50 reasons why you need it.” (Don’t panic – I won’t give you those 50 reason why.) But, all in all, it’s quite a bit like doing ITIL (Information Infrastructure Information Library) and SOA (Service Oriented Architecture); some do it and are quite good at it and can show a HUGE benefit from even getting started. (See InfoWorld Article on ITIL, 10/23/06, page 23+) on how to get started on ITIL and the one on getting started on SOA.) Meanwhile, others just don’t understand it at all. And there’s everything in between. So, here goes. Generally speaking, a Rule Repository is much like a source code control system with some really cool enhancements. First – what are a few of the things that a source code control system like CVS or Clear Case should provide for you?

  • Life cycle management, from creation to retirement and store the retirement
  • Version control, from to the latest pre-alpha
  • Audit trail. For Auditors and bookkeepers (The IT variant).
  • Who put what where, when did they put it there and the reason that they gave.
  • Check-out and check-in and privileges thereof

So, what should a Rule Repository give you other than that? Well, things like

  • Really, really fine-grained access management
  • Search for objects accessed during the last run of the rules
  • Search for objects not touched by the last run of the rules
  • Search for which rule fired the most on the last run
  • Search for which rule fired the most on the last ten or twenty runs of the rules,
  • Search for which rule never fired on the last run of the rules
  • Search for which rule never fired on the last ten or twenty runs of the rules
  • Search for which rule has NEVER fired
  • Search for which rules ALWAYS fire and how many times, average, for each one
  • Stepping through the rules with a debugger for each line in the rule (lots of overhead for this one) and this one is the trickiest of all
  • Tracking who put the rule into the system and why but more complex than CVS
  • Authorization for anyone to put rules into the system
  • And lots more…

Now why in the world would you need all of this (and more) clutter? Answer: Auditing for Sarbannes-Oxley, SOA, IT Auditing compliance, and, most of all, debugging of the system when something doesn’t go according to plan. If you’re using one of the "open systems", "free-ware" or "share-ware" versions like OPSJ, Jess or JBoss Rules you can always integrate the rules with the CVS or Clear Case. On the other hand, if you’re using the rich rule repositories of IBM/ILOG JRules or FICO Blaze Advisor then you will have laid the basic ground work for SOA, Sarbannes-Oxley or any other IT auditor who comes around. All you have to do is do it right the first time. Again, you might want to go read the article in InfoWorld and maybe something more recent.



Sunday, November 7, 2010

Multi-Dimensional Things


Chatting with Mark Proctor just now. He's about to get Drools running on Collection-Oriented, Parallelized Rete - or something like that. However, in the process of working on my forecasting, I'm thinking of the analysis board in "The Majority Report" or "NCIS LA" - but in 3D then in multiple dimensions. Design work by 2012 or 2015 (OK, maybe 2020) will be done by modeling in 3D or 4D using holographic (or some other technology) so that we can move objects around NOT with our hands but with our mind. Hand-movement is WAY too slow for what you can think. And the models will involve time, space and multi-dimensions and massively parallel inputs.

Think about it: Your body has probably a million or more inputs to your brain all running at one time. All in parallel. What I need is a decent tool for real parallel work, not a single processor or even 128 processors, but a few million processors like in the old days of DARPA. Each one doing just a single, simple task. But all in parallel and all controlled by a massive Parallel CPU that can processes a million inputs at once. Real intelligence, real active agents or real-world forecasting will require just such tools.

And it might not be computers as we know them today. I suspect that these will be chemical simulations of the brain or maybe even real brain matter that is trained (something like a neural net but not exactly) such that we can interact with them using our own central cortex in some simple way - maybe like the "Matrix" but that was way too weird to work for what I'm thinking about. Actually, I DO know that the military is working with real brain matter to train it as a "computer" of sorts. I've seen it myself so it isn't just rumour.

Well, the headaches are back. Off to bed. But keep thinking about how to REALLY advance our thought process to model what we're really thinking and doing it quickly and easily. DARPA, TI, HP, Apple, CYC - SOMEBODY has to come up with a solution right away that is not hardware-based junk that we are being forced to use today.


No Magic Conference starts tomorrow (Sunday)


The No Magic conference will begin tomorrow. It's called a World Conference and since they are working around the world I suppose that it's justified. John Zachman, Richard Soley (OMG), Lynn Meredith (Lockheed Fellow) and lots more. Check


For more details. Cocktails tomorrow evening (this evening now) and the conference on Monday at 8:00. (Good Grief! Charley Brown! Nobody goes to a conference at 8:00 a.m. any more!) If I get to enough meetings I'll blog about it later. But, check out the site anyway.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rules Fest 2011 Day 3


I wish I could tell you more about day three but the only one for which I have Notes was Christian de la Maria of IBM/ILOG talk on RIF. My only note there was "A rule is just another data item." I certainly hope that I got that one wrong ONLY because we have been teaching for so long that rules are the logic that are data driven. So if rules are data and data are data then the data are data driven? Naaahhhh... That's not what he meant. Maybe he'll blog and correct me on what I thought I heard.

Anyway, I had to leave early but, again, Michael Small gave Rolando and I a ride to the airport. What a guy. Now I owe him two drinks. :-) So, that's all the news that I have from "Camp Woebegone where the women are strong, the men are good looking and all of the children are above average." [ala, Prarie Home Companion]


Monday, October 18, 2010

Rules Fest 2010 - Day 2 - Tuesday


[First this is being written a full week after the events from my notes which may or may not be spot on.] Well, here are just some things that hit me on Tuesday - migraine was just setting in good. I always get one the second day after a long flight. Something to do with decompression + recompression of the neck joints.

1. Karen Myers: Work flow for the Masses. OK, that would have been my title. Mostly to do with data flow and work flow; something ALL of us need but not the thrust of the conference. And she talked WAY too fast for this slow, old cowboy from West Texas. :-)

2. Paul Vincent: Former FICO guy and one of the great Brits that I have had the privilege of meeting. (a) Paul defines "real time" as something like 5 minutes. I define real time as something on the order of nano-seconds or less. (b) Brief visit into parallelism and Fail Over Strategy that was pretty good. (c) Just a bit on Forecasting (my favorite part but not much about it) and then he ended up saying something about a "finite state machine." FYI, ALL computer programs are finite state machines. If you have the same program, same data, same OS, same everything, you should always get the same output from a finite state machine. QED.

3. James Taylor: (a) Another Brit but with a stronger accent. Being in the back of the room probably didn't help, but I could understand only about half of what the boy was saying. And I happen to like "Only Fools and Horses" [I have the entire collection on DVD] as well as most Brit-Coms - and some of those have some real Cockney accents. (b) One of his slides was "Decisions Matter more than rules do." Personally, I don't think that you have direct relationship there. If I said, "Data matters more than do rules." (better English, anyway) then it is says nothing. Data matters, decisions matter, process matters, rules matter. To me, a decision is the result of the action of the rules. (c) A couple of other quotes: "Execution is less important than management." I didn't understand the statement nor could I hear the explanation so I'll just let that one slide. (d) "What kills rules is not performance but mismanagement of the rules themselves." Again, one does not negate nor prove the other. Performance and mismanagement of rules are two different concepts. (e) "Data Depth can improve its Width." ??? Your guess is good as mine but maybe I'm just showing my ignorance on database here. (f) "You can't use the same rule on every transaction." OUCH! Yes you CAN! As a matter of fact, that's exactly what a rulebase is all about. Same rules for all transactions of the same type. (g) Then he went into some Champion / Challenger stuff that the boys from FICO Business Analytics would have liked. Overall, good stuff from a business point of view but not very technical.

4. Mark Proctor: Drools Evangelist Extraordanaire! I still have to struggle having with the concept of having only CE elements in a rule, which is called a query in drools. Somehow I think that a good rules debugger would flag that one as a Conditions without Actions flaw. Lots of code. Lots and lots and lots of code. Drools guys loved it because they speak Droolie. I speak Drools about like I speak French - poorly and not in public.

[Another great lunch break provided by JRules guys. Good lunch and good talk by Daniel Selman.]

5. Panel Discussion: OK, but still opinions are like certain parts of the human anatomy; we all have one and they all smell about the same.

6. Andrew Waterman: Missed the whole thing and this was one that I really, really wanted to see.

7. Hal Hildebrand: Distributed Systems. (a) "Failures are the norm." ??? There are times when failure is not an option. And we should NOT tolerate it but the rule sales guys can usually turn them around so that it must be the fault of the client. The client should NEVER stand still for a failure unless they failed to commit enough resources and money to make it happen.

8. David Holz: Good talk, lots of code.

9. Jason Morris: Another one that I missed. It was time for another lie down to get rid of the migraine. Someone else will have to report on that one.

[Tuesday supper with my Executive Editor at InfoWorld with some of the guys from Rules Fest who insisted on bringing their best friend and therefore some didn't get invited to that supper that should have been. Sorry, CAB. How about in December in San Francisco?]


Thursday, October 14, 2010

ORF 2011 and Its History


First there was ORF 2008. The Three Amigos (myself, Rolando Hernandez and Greg Barton) were the instigators at the continued prodding of Mark Proctor of Drools fame. Rolo and I had our talks rejected by Business Rules Forum because they were too technical. So, we decided to start our very own conference for geeks and nerds. Pete Carapetyn helped in the beginning but dropped out because he just didn't want to tell vendors we might have 500 people. I used the term "might" because anything is possible.

I, on the other hand, really believed that if we set the price at $150 we would be swamped with applicants. (Didn't happen, BTW. We only had about 125 applicants and 30 speakers.) But it was lots of fun and I (it was my credit card after all) lost only about $1,000 on that venture. The speakers were some of the best (technically) in the world. FICO stepped in as a Diamond sponsor (God Bless Carole Ann!) and we made it.

ORF 2009: We raised the price to $500 not expecting the market to drop out the bottom. We moved the event to the finest hotel in Texas, the Adolphus (built by the Busch founder and hosted Queen Elizabeth in 1998) that was located right in the middle of all of the restaurants and only six blocks from Dealy Plaze where JFK was shot. FICO (Carole Ann again) and No Magic stepped up for Diamond sponsors but we had only 35 paying attendees. This one lost about $14K. But, once again, the speaker were the best and even improved over the year before.

ORF 2010: I had gone to work for a vendor so I couldn't do the conference and I handed it over to Jason Morris. Jason had the foresight to realize that he could lose his hind quarters so he set up a committee to help. Carole Ann left FICO so there went that sponsor. But, they got ILOG (IBM now) to replace FICO and only Gary Riley dropped out of the top speaker list from the year before. (His spousal unit was in the hospital for repair.) They dropped the October out of the name (buggers!) but the hotel was on the same level (quality wise) as The Adolphus. It's only drawback was that it was located in a sea of residential homes. The committee fell in love with the hotel and forgot that most people like to end the day, walk out of the hotel and wander around at various pubs and bars. On the other hand, the conference was a 100 with 10x bulls eyes. (If you're a target shooter you know what that means. If you're not a target shooter, you should be.)

ORF 2011: I would like to see it moved to San Francisco, Miami, or Nice in France. They probably won't but I'm just going to wait and see. BRF tried to have a BRF in Europe and they had to cancel for lack of attendees. Very, very embarrassing for all concerned. But, San Francisco or Miami? What do you guys think?

So, see you guys in (??) for Rules Fest 2011?


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

ORF 2010 - Monday explanations


A couple wanted to know why "diss" the speakers? Well, I don't know. Migraine, bad back, knees without padding between the bones... Whatever, I guess I just get tired of seeing blog after blog of happiness and wonderful accolades.

BUT! Overall, the conference is probably the only technical rulebase conference, top quality speakers, people who invented this stuff and people who are inventing more great stuff today. I learned a LOT and managed to say the wrong thing at the wrong time more than once.

If you didn't come, SHAME on you. If you did, pay no attention to the guy in the western hat sitting in the back. He's nuts! :-)


ORF 2010 - Day 1 - Monday


What a great day. Lots of fun and good food at lunch. Here's a play-by-play recap of some things that I noted today. Anyone who feels maligned, well, feel free to drop by and we'll share a Glen Livet and see why I say that.

Carole Ann Berlioz-Matignon: (She's dropped the Berlioz these days and I kind of miss it.) She said, (1) "Don't expect business users to think like developers." Well, OK, but they actually can. And, not only that, they kind of HAVE to think like developers and developers have to learn how to think like business users. (2) "Business guys need Tables, Nets and Graphs." Again, not true - nobody HAS to think like anything because we're all different and we all think different so we can't assume that all business users think like that. QED. (3) "Again, focus on the Business Concepts and NOT the rules." Ouch. The rules ARE the business logic!" Business Concepts and rules are one and the same thing. BUT, the presentation was simply glorious - she's using some kind of really cool software that allows her to give really cool, really neat presentations. BTW, since she made probably 150 documented points and we only disagreed on three, that's pretty close.

Pete Voss: (1) "Animals do not do abstract thought." Actually, animals have been shown to be able to count, communicate and express tremendous feelings for each other and ever some for humans. I just have to give animals more credit. (2) "Neural Gas Architecture." I don't know what that is yet but I'll be working on Goole overtime tonight. Supposedly it's a Dynamic Architecture based on data. Sounds really cool. BTW, way back in the dark ages of Ge transistors and diodes we (the good old USAF) did VERY large-scale training projects. Sure, the computers took up several buildings, but we did them.

John Laird: Now this guy was at CMU with The Forgenator in the early day of AI and Rulebased systems; a true rule guru. He still insists that people need to remember where we started and the this is, after all, AI. Dammit! (OK, he didn't say, "Dammit" but should have.) He claims to be the first person to write a rulebase (a game that he invented in college) with over 1,000 rules.

Rolando Hernandez: Rolo pretty much showed WHY we need to keep knowledge from "leaking" out of the company but some pretty fair ideas on how to to do it.

George Williamson: Something about "Forecasting performance of games." Didn't quite catch all of that but maybe I'll pick it up on the slides later. (2) He commented about taking a line-by-line translation of a C program straight to Java and the problems that they had with it. Well, Duuuhhh.. NEVER translate a program line for line. Not even C to C++. (3) "Business Users cannot understand complex coded rules." Horse hockey! I've worked with business users who did it. They did it because they wanted to do and (maybe) because their jobs were on the line. (4) "You can't test all the rules." Again, well... I did that at Lloyds Bank because we HAD to have 100% verification because it was an on-line banking problem. 800 rules had 65K+ test cases but it had 100% verification. (5) "RBS is a nightmare to maintain from an IT point of view." NO! RBS helps relieve the nightmare if the business guys are writing and testing the rules, NOT the IT guys. Once you put the monkey on their backs, they will make sure that everything works and works right! I guess that traveling around and not staying on one job more than 18 months gives you a different view. (OK, now that's just bragging and promoting traveling consultants, isn't it??) But, I have to admire a guy who stays on for 12 years at one place and puts up with the constant internal politics and wins out - that's something I could never do. :-) Finally, (6) there was a comment about "not having the same time on each device in the USA" (mostly in Texas, I think) Again, back in 65-67 we (NASA) kept everything synched up while doing satellite tracking at lunar distances using WWV out of Ft. Collins, CO, located at 5, 10, 15... MHZ. Nothing more than time hack every second of 1KHz and maybe 10 cycles that we zeroed in every shift. I don't think I'm going to get a job with Union Pacific after this but it had to be said.

James Owen: (moi) Forecasting with Rules. OK, lots of chit chat and didn't hole the putt with the first stroke and the finish was anti-climatic. (Forgot a slide showing how the C code of a forecasting rulebase done in 1992 would look in OPSJ or Drools in 2010. So sue me!) And I was really tired and missed completing the job. So, now I need to go back and put all in the stuff that I left out. Maybe Jason will give me another chance for redemption next year.

Luke Voss: Missed it. One of my favorite speakers (just me him last year) and I had to go get new keys from the front desk to change shoes. Oh, well. Maybe he'll tell me about it later and explain the slides.

Panel Discussion. Well, I deserved that since I started it at ORF 2009 last year. I was kind of hoping that Jason wouldn't do that this year but we're doing it. And the attendees seem to like it. A couple of photos later.


More tomorrow! Tune in.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

CAB Blogs on Rules Fest 2010


Carole Ann Berlioz-Matignon (CAB) has set up a video (complete with barking dogs) at http://bit.ly/bh9txo - on her own blog site. CAB was formerly a VP of all of the products at Fair Isaac (FICO) and she is the very first speaker at the conference. She is extremely well versed in both rulebased systems as well as optimization and other products in our tiny little world.

Check out the video - she a lovely French lass whose English is so much better than my French but she still has a beautiful accent. (Forget it you plonkers! She's happily married!)


Friday, October 1, 2010

What to do, what to do?


[Warning: None of the below has anything whatsoever to do with rulebased systems nor AI.]

Right now in Texas, we have a slick-haired, pompadoured, Carpet Bagging Yankee Dixie-Dandy spending my tax dollars like it was free money and who is the incumbent Republican. The more mundane Democrat, (whom I happen to like) unfortunately, still favors abortion - something that is, or should be, an unforgivable offense to any true-believing Jew (comme moi), Christian or Moslem.

I can't vote for the Democrat. I refuse to vote for the crooked Republican. (This guy is so crooked that they are going to have to screw him into the ground when he dies.) (This guy is lower than a snake's belly in a wagon track.) (This guy would shame Elmer Gantry.) (This guy... well, you get the idea.)

So, what to do, what to do? What we need is a box that we can check that says "NONE OF THE ABOVE" and reject all of them so that we can get a new slate of candidates; maybe one that has morals and doesn't spend money like West-Texas dirt. (Can't say "water" in Texas - Water down here is WAY too precious.) All I can do is vote for neither one and go on with life. If I don't show up at the polls, then I don't get to vote in the next election unless I re-register again; a slow and arduous process that takes days to complete properly.

Somebody once said, "Every now and then a little (or big) revolution is necessary." Maybe it was Karl Marx. Or George Washington. Doesn't matter - sounds like a good idea to me.


Monday, September 27, 2010

News on Education


Usually, I watch only two stations here in the DFW area for news: NBC Channel 5 and CBS Channel 11. On one of the local news casts today, on a story concerning the problems that educators face, those in the story and those reporting the story made the following errors (among many that I have now forgotten) in English:

"Dey wuz" [They WERE]
"... where dey wuz going to." [THEY WERE GOING. NO "to" is necessary.]

I quit listening after that and switched over to another channel. That was really embarrassing to hear supposedly educated newscasters and educators use such horrible English. After all, how can the comment on the poor education that "dem kids" are receiving when they themselves cannot properly use the language.

Perhaps ALL of them (educators and news casters alike) should return to class in another state, (say, California or Nebraska or a city like Boston or Chicago) and RE-train themselves in the English language. The way that the language is taught and spoken here in the DFW area is both alarming and depressing - at the same time.

I think that the biggest offenders here in DFW are the following:
  • mis-pronouncing words (Wuz for Was, Day for They, Dem for Them)
  • Ending a sentence in a verb or preposition
  • split infinitives
  • using an adjective for an adverb ("He done real good on the test." Even, "He did really good on the test." is not proper English. "He really did well on the test.") "He was driving bad." rather than "He was driving poorly." Adverbs are used to modify a verb and usually end in "ly". Just a guide.
I don't know which is the most common mistake - probably the pronunciation of words. Even NBC nightly news is guilty of really poor grammer and speech. Maybe that's why I listen to them; to prove to myself that even the "big boys and girls" make really common mistakes when excited or animated.

Please, at the Rules Fest, PLEASE allow an English grammarian to look over your presentation for obvious mistakes. Make the speech for them and have them correct your pronunciation of the words into what is sometimes referred to as "Nebraskan English" (if you are an American - USA) or "Posh English" (if you are European.) I doesn't matter how intelligent you are; if you don't speak properly in front of your peers they will think that you are not terribly bright.

Oh, and if I make a mistake, PLEASE correct me privately later. Remember, nobody is perfect - not even linguistic majors. (I have the evidence on file.) And, for some reason, when excited and speaking at a high rate of speed, I sometimes revert to old habits.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Rete-NT Formally Announced


OK, it's now official. See

for the InfoWorld articles on Rete-NT, the fastest rulebase on earth. The first is the Developer World article and the second is the InfoWorld Blog article. And, here's the really cool part; it's customer driven, everyone gets the same low-ball price ($5K / cpu / year) and any vendor that uses the Rete Algorithm in any form can add it to their engine with the help of Dr. Forgy. If the vendor doesn't want to hire Dr. Forgy, then they can hire whomever they like - but since millions of dineros will be depending on this, I think that I would want the inventor himself to oversee the integration of the Rete-NT into my product. Also, Rete-NT, like all of the PST products before, comes with it's own rulebase language called OPSJ - very similar to JRules and Drools language but a bit more powerful. BTW, the engine itself takes only 100K of RAM.

Dr. Forgy will be at Rules Fest 2010 in San Jose to answer any questions you might have but Rete-NT is proprietary to Production Systems Technology (PST). You might say that this is like the Borland Turbo-C/C++ when they charged only $50 for a better product than other vendors were selling for anywhere from $1,000 (M/S) to $5,000 (IBM) or something like that. That made the C/C++ IDE available to every college student in the world.

Think about it. A corporation could buy the Rete-NT for their servers and improve performance by 100 times or more in some cases, by only 10 times in the worst cases. When you are processing millions of transactions per minute (or even per second) you need the very fastest thing that you can get; and Rete-NT is it.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

ORC at Rules Fest 2010


At 5:00 on Monday, Oct 11th, shortly after the final presentation for that day, The Royal and Ancient Order of the Red Cane will award Dr. Charles Forgy and Gary Riley lifetime and voting memberships in ORC (The Royal and Ancient Order of the Red Cane) for their continued contributions to rulebased systems and their refusal to believe that something can't be done - so they did it.

Gary Riley primarily will be awarded ORC membership because he is a pioneer of AI and rulebased systems (along with many others) and for his continued development of a C/C++ rulebased product (CLIPS) and up through and including version 6.3 which has been tested by independent laboratories and has an amazing performance on a par with Rete-2.

Dr. Forgy primarily will be awarded ORC membership for the development of the OPS language itself that upon which most rulebased languages were founded after that time as well as for for the development Rete (3,000 times faster than existing programs), Rete-2 (50 times faster than Rete) and Rete-NT (10 times faster than Rete-2).

Both will be lifetime memberships (both are over 40 so who knows how long that will be?) and both will be voting members on who will be future receipiants of ORF. Also, this will keep the ORF acronym alive for many years to come even though some members of myriad organizations and several vendors tried to kill it off. :-)


Phinehas Ben Yaakov


Phinehas Ben Yaakov (http://Phinehas2.blogspot.com) has taken over the blog of Yaakov2 (of Sweetwater, Texas) on WordPress. Phinehas 2 because Phinehas 1 was a compatriot of Moshe. Phinehas is a bit of a zealot and should make for some interesting reading. Yaakov is pushing 80 now and is still a brilliant mind but he has grown weary of idiots and G-d has allowed him a bit of "Rest in the West" before he joins his fathers. Enjoy...


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rules Fest 2010 Conference - Sep 11th - 14th


[The new organizers dropped the "October" part.] OK, if you haven't signed up yet, DO IT NOW!! http://www.rulesfest.org - and be sure and stay at the hotel so Jason doesn't lose his whatevers like yours truly.

If you live in the San Jose / San Francisco (Silly Valley) area, you have no reason NOT to come. Most of the geeks and nerds in the world live and work there so the location this year seemed like a good idea when they first came up with it. Still is. But, remember, space will be limited both at the hotel and the conference.

Great speakers, great friendships, and you get to meet all those guys and corner them with your most perplexing problems. Especially Mark Proctor and Jason Morris. :-)


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Fair Lady


Even in Texas, when you call a government office you have to press "1" to continue in English. Not only that, it's been years since I spoke with a recruiter who was not from Bombay or New Delhi. I am NOT a bigot. I am NOT an English Teacher. But it would be nice to talk with someone for once who spoke good (USA-type preferred) English, whether in person or over the telephone.

In very first part of the movie, "My Fair Lady", taken from Pygmalian, Professor Higgins laments the fact that the English don't teach their children how to speak - meaning how to speak proper English. And he is totally correct. During my first gig in London at Lloyds TSB Bank, there were at least 15 different accents on the 2nd floor alone. Throw out the obvious Irish, Scotch and Welsh brogues of various colors and renditions, and you still have three different accents from South Africa and another one from New Zeland, another from Australia and then you have the various accents (10 or 12) from in and around London itself. There's a Midland's accent, a Birmingham accent, and... Well, the list just goes on and on and on and... On the other hand, after a year, I could tell a person's heritage and background just by his or her speech pattern.

Meanwhile, in the colonies, the good old USA, the New Orleans accent sounds remarkably like the Bronx accent, there is a group in SW VA that sound like they are from South Georgia, the Cajun accent made Justin Wilson a multi-millionaire which he then gave to five or six different wives. WHY can't we get ONE common language for the English-speaking peoples of the world. English is the national language of Canada, all of the UK including Scotland, Wales and Ireland, the USA, Australia, New Zeland, India (north and south) and, to some degree, Pakistan. If we could get everyone else to go along with this, I might even try to drop my Texas Twan... if everyone else would go along. :-)


Monday, July 5, 2010

BRF+ORF+W3C+OMG+RIF+???==XYX Alphabet Soup


I was speaking with a friend today about (O)RF and what it meant to BRF and other communities of associated conferences. We kind-of decided that (O)RF is unique in its stated "By Developers, For Developers" slogan (It sounds silly now but it made sense then) but then they (the ORF directors) allowed EDM and BRF founders to state what they want ORF (it will always be ORF to me) to become or what they think it should become.

Perhaps Ron Ross was right; maybe there there should be a different track in BRF for CEP, another for EDM and, perhaps, another for the geeks and nerds who want rulebased systems (BRMS) to return to its AI roots. I think that had he been man enough to have called me first rather than having his "minior minions feel me out" on the subject, it might have been a single conference. Maybe. Maybe not.

In any event, BRF is what it is and ORF is what it is and quite possibly ne'er the twain shall meet on common ground. I am sincerely hoping that I can be there Monday, October 11th, (early Monday morning) and Monday night (late) in order to have a fireside chat with everyone about what we're doing today and where we're going. Personally, just one man's opinion, but I think that all of the conferences have become highly political and run not on logic but rather are emotion-fed engines that thrive on controversy. Thus has always been and thus shall always be. I really hope that I'm wrong and that rather that build walls for separate camps we might tear down the walls and use the stones to outline patches of carrots and beets and cabbages and leeks.

"May the sun join with a light, cool breeze at your back as you walk through life. May the road rise up to meet your feet and may there be no stumbling blocks along the way. May the Lord bless thee and keep thee. May the Lord find favor with thee and give thee peace. May the Lord hold you in the palm of his hand until we meet again." [An old Irish/Welsh/Scottish blessing taken from the Hebrew] Maybe, one day, we can live in peace and harmony and look for solutions rather than find errors in the ways of others. TTFN.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Best In Open Source


We (InfoWorld) are looking, once again, for the best of the best (creme-de-la-creme) of the Open Source community. Does NOT have to be in the rulebase space but anything that is absolutely beneficial (some might say crucial) to the business community (not developer community) that advances the cause of Open Source to the business world.

If you know of such an item, please add a comment (and I will get it) along with what it does, why it enhances the open source community, why it helps business users, etc. But putting it into a comment block, you can see what others think as well. If someone else has already mentioned it, please add a "me too" comment so that I can collate the number of votes for or against.

I must have this by the first part of August in order to collate for my editor so the he can colllate it in mid Aug from all of the other editors so that the OS award for various categories can be published later that month.

So, the quicker the response, the better. Thanks for any help that you guys can give.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Waiting for the Call


Well, here I am after being laid off (down sized, re-org'ed, whatever) from FICO - again. A stint with Neuron Data back in '98 - '99, another stint with Fair Isaac from '06 - '08, and now another stint ending in 2010. I don't think that we (either of us) really want to do another stint - unless, of course, Carlos and Carole Ann return to the FICO fold and need someone with my peculiar set of talents. I really did enjoy working with those folks.

Am I angry with any of them? Bless G-d, NO! I have learned lots of lessons from each stint with ND/FairIsaac/FICO as well as with each job with ILOG/JRules, Jess, CLIPS, CLIPS/R2 and all of the others. Knowledge is wonderful thing and, used for good, is even more wonderful. Of all of my jobs/contracts the only time I got into trouble was for telling the truth - which, sooner or later, was to return to me 10-fold. I think that the highest compliment that I EVER got was not for how much I knew, how much I helped the product, nor anything else. One of my former supervisors told one of my co-workers that I could be trusted to always tell the truth, not necessarily what he/she wanted to hear. And that I could be trusted to do what I really thought was the right thing to do at the time.

Some of my mentors along the way have been (first of all) Dr. Charles Forgy as well as Don Tallo, Carole Ann Berlioz-Matignon, Carlos Seranno Morales, Irwin Welker, Maarten Van Lier, Libor Lanyi and Philip Debras (ILOG guys at O2 in Munich), Henry Bowers (formerly PM with ILOG), MarkProctor (Drools), Dr. Ernest Friedman-Hill (Jess), Gary Riley (CLIPS) and many, many more. My mentors who helped so very much with my writing are Dr. Binshan Lin (LSU) for academic papers and Doug Dineley at InfoWorld (for commercial white paper articles.) Each and every one contributed to my growth in one way or another. I can NOT list out all of the co-workers who contributed to my overall knowledge except for maybe Richard Hill, Daniel Brookshier and Greg Barton who helped greatly with my Java growth that was much needed for working in any Java Rulebase.

So, if you guys know of someone who needs a really senior (dirty old man) consultant or a fairly half-fast Product Manager, give them my name and email (jco@kbsc.com) and I would love to hit the books again. Just finished the last part of my Pragmatic Marketing (for a Product Manager?) course and I learned quite a bit from it. I would HIGHLY recommend it for anyone in marketing, product management and especially for each and every sales person in your company.

Maybe I can go back to doing evaluations for InfoWorld again. Doug? Are you there? I hate to admit it, but Doug and I were pretty much responsible for making the term BRMS an industry acronym that became synonymous with rulebase, which it isn't, of course, but we did that dirty deed and now we have to stay with it. Regardless, there is still much ground to cover and the game is still afoot.

Thanks for listening,


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Never Forget!


Lots of things should be forgotten, otherwise we could not continue as human beings but would end up a mindless heap quivering in the corner of a darkened room. However, some bad things we should not forget. Days like September 11, 1939: Germany invades Poland and WW II begins. September 7, 1941: Japan bombs Pearl Harbor. June 6, 1944: D-Day when the Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy and the word Omaha became more than just black marks on pieces of paper. The USA lost more than 3,000 men on that one beach from V Corps alone. All total, the allies lost 120,00+ men at Normandy.

So, Next Week, on the 6th of June, Sunday Morning, remember D-Day and the sacrifices made by the ordinary men who wore USA and USN uniforms in order to keep your freedom, your way of life.


October Rules Fest - Looking Back and Forth


In some recent emails I have been asked why I don't want to "give back to the community" the things from ORF 2008 and ORF 2009 that have not (yet) been made public. Some of contents from some of those emails made it to public light. I feel that what I said in personal emails should have been just that; personal. But! Now that the dirty laundry is out in the open, as it were, I will make the following comments and then fade away into the wispy mist of the yesteryears of happy memories.

It was my pleasure to have devoted a great deal of time to ORF 2008 and ORF 2009 to try and see if the Geeks and Nerds of this world could make a conference happen that was focused on technology of rulebased systems, not the commercial side so much as on the theory and science of the AI aspect of the industry. In the process I lost $15,000+ (at a time when I had very little personal income) and I know that Rolando Hernandez lost a few thousand in 2008.

ORF ( http://www.OctoberRulesFest.org ) could not have happened without four things converging together as though they were concentric circles of foretold happenstance;

(1) Attendance from the technophiles of the world who longed for a place in the sun. Would that we had had more who could have attended but we didn't. Nor did we have a PR machine to tell anyone about them - just a ground swell of pent-up demand from geeks longing to tell their own story and listen to the stories of others from around the world. Some even paid their own way just to be part of what one attendee called "The Woodstock of Rulebase."

(2) Financial Sponsorship from a few big vendors; in particular Fair Isaac (now FICO, for whom I have been working again since January of this year) but also Third Pillar, No Magic, Visual Rules, BizRules and Production Systems Technologies. Even with their help, we still lost money. But they made the financial part happen.

(3) Extraordinary Unpaid Help - ORF 2008: Greg Barton, Rolando Hernandez, Pete Charpentier and a few others. ORF 2009: Greg Barton and Chelanie Israel. (True, Chelanie was a paid employee but she gave us a ridiculous rate for her services.) And Greg Barton was my strong right arm both years even though he didn't have as much spare time the second year. Finally, Mark Proctor who evangelized ORF and brought about half of Europe with him both years.

(4) Finally, The Speakers: Who paid their own way, paid for their own rooms and took the time to prepare for the conference. There are WAY too many to list but the headliners were, of course, Dr. Charles Forgy (Inventor of Rete, Rete 2, ReteNG) Gary Riley,(Inventor of CLIPS) John Zachman, (GodFather of EDM) Thomas Cooper (Early research on OPS5 at CMU), Carlos Seranno-Morales (Inventor of Advisor), Carole Ann Berlioz-Matignon, (EDM Evangelist and co-developer with Carlos), Dr. Richard Hicks (Texas A&M), Paul Vincent, (TIBCO) Daniel Selman (ILOG) and many, many others including several local university professors; Dr. Leon Kappelman (UNT), Dr. Daniel Levine (UTA) and Dr. Gopal Gupta (UTD). ORF is truly indebted to them, one and all.

These were the four pillars that held up the tableau that was ORF. Actually, to have made money from such a wonderful adventure would have seemed both crass in nature and purile in practice. So, having inadvertently lost money, I can truly say that I did it for the love of the art and science of AI and I wouldn't have anyone take that feeling away from me. Unfortunately, I feel that AI today is drifting into pure commercialism without the three things that will make it a wonderful thing: (1) The mainstay of R&D by the major companies and government, (2) one's own personal love of adventure and (3) the practitioner's search for perfection of artistry.

To the organizers of Rules Fest 2010 in San Jose this year: Keep the faith and fight the good fight. I really hope to see you there. For those who don't know about Rules Fest 2010, see http://www.rulesfest.org for more information and to sign up.

CoFounder ORF-2008/ORF-2009

Monday, May 3, 2010

(October) Rules Fest 2010


One more time: (October) Rules Fest will be October 11th - October 13th and all details can be found at http://www.rulesfest.org now managed and maintained by Jason Morris of Morris Technical Services. So far, no list of speakers BUT there is a call for papers. So, if you feel that you would like to write something technical in one of five categories then write up a synopsis and send it in. Charles Young is collecting all of them and somewhere there is a group of guys who will determine who can speak and if that subject fits that category or should be moved or whatever.

In the past, we've had a lot of fun. Not that the Rules Fest is in Silicon Valley, it should draw LOTS more technical attendees and speakers. That was always the problem with holding ORF in Dallas; most of the techies were in California or North Carolina. So, with a bit of help from Michael Small (FICO - Chicago) the guys found a really nice hotel in San Jose to have the conference with a nice main conference room and some breakout rooms. Exactly what will happen and exactly WHO will be there will be posted as it happens. Hopefully the site will allow an RSS feed so that you can automagically track what's happening, including Tweets.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rules Fest in San Jose


OK, it seems to be on-track now with Jason Morris taking over as the head honcho for Rules Fest, formerly known as October Rules Fest. The old page of http://www.octoberrulesfest.org is still there but the new page will be simply http://www.rulesfest.org and Jason should have it up later this week. Charles Young should have the list of speakers out later this month (or next month) as well. Hopefully.

Email jason.c.morris@gmail.com and get all of the details, latest news, etc. The conference will be October 11th - 13th at the Dolce Hotel in San Jose. As I understand it, the room rates are $139 per night (plus tax) including a breakfast and coffee/tea during the day while at the conference. Per Jason, the price for the conference is $399 for all three days and that includes lunch. Bootcamps are extra and prices are set by the various vendors and presenters. Check in later with the site for confirmation when Jason gets it finished.

Looking forward to seeing all of the attendees from the past couple of years (ORF 2008 and ORF 2009) plus lots of other developers (geeks) from Silicon Valley.


[Edited and changed on 29 March 2010]

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

FICO World 2010


Well, it's finally here next week. FICO World (formerly called InterACT) is here and will be in Miami, FL, this year. You can get all of the details at


where you can register, follow on twitter, follow on Linked-In, just about anything. The big thing for me (as a PM for FICO Blaze Advisor) is that we will be showing off the latest version of Blaze Advisor 6.9. The RMA (Rule Maintenance Application across the net) has been really improved. The appearance, the functionality, the ease of use have all been improved and there are many other smaller upgrades that just makes it easier to use. Don Griest (and some other folks from FICO) will be there to show off Blaze Advisor 6.9 and many, many other decision management tools that FICO has to offer.

Remember, as with IBM - or ILOG - the rulebase is a small part of a huge enterprise effort. Carlos Seranno-Morales did an excellent job of pointing this out at ORF 2008 in his second presentation if you can still find the copy on the net. And that is the main difference between a BRMS (Business Rules Management System) and a rulebase. A rulebase is the heart and soul of the logic while the BRMS is ability to work within an enterprise system of business analytics, forecasting, scoring, etc. - all nicely bound together AND, normally, a BRMS will easily interface with SAP and other 3rd party tools to make life easier for everyone. A standalone rulebase, however, is nice for getting started and for working in other environments than just the pure business world.

Have fun and enjoy Miami.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Product Management


So, as most of you know, I have recently accepted the position of Product Manager for FICO. Whoopee! But, what I'm wondering is this: What exactly does a PM do for a company? Managing a product is like (but not like) managing people; the big difference is that you have to determine the path of a product so that people WANT to use your product and enjoy using it.

Much as the iPhone was more than just a phone, had Apple followed conventional wisdom they would have just improved on the many cellular phones that were already on the market. They didn't do that. They invented a whole new product and culture - one that could accept additions gracefully, upgrade easily and something that people (especially their target audience) totally enjoyed having. And, as a side benefit, it was a bit of a status symbol. Their only stumble along the way was tieing it so closely to an old-fashioned, slowly changing company; AT&T. To their credit, they still control the add-on market so that you don't get garbage for add-ons, whether free or $20. Developers hate the control but the public loves that what they get will work.

That being said, back to being a PM. I think that what I need is to find out what people, the users, really want. Not feedback from salesmen and consultants who leave out the warts and pimples so that the feedback is pretty and acceptable, but things that will, in the long-run, make the product something that everyone WANTS to use in their daily work. Not just financial people and stock marketeers, but the ordinary joe, the engineers, psychologists, chemists, doctors, warehouse managers, etc. Something that they can "show off" to their friends and neighbors as the latest and greatest thing in the industry. Something really cool.

The problem is that I don't know, at this point, what that magical combination of attributes and benefits would be. I've been chatting with the OMG people all week and they either don't know anything about a rulebase OR they know all about LISP and OPS5. I'm moving from group to group to hear what each one needs and there isn't one yet that could not use a rulebase of some kind to work out their problems and express them in a declarative manner rather than the monotonic, procedural manner and process that they have always used in the past in conjunction with IT.

OK, enough on that. Next blog will be a return to conflict resolution in rulebased systems. Promise. :-)


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Snow in Texas


More snow in Texas as I pack up to head out tomorrow - maybe it will move on out tonight. Doesn't matter, really. I can always head out the next day. What's on the agenda for OMG/PRR this year? Actually, we should be trying to define (1) what is a rulebase engine, (2) what is forward and backward chaining (and the various combinations), (3) is conflict resolution absolutely necessary, (4) how can people who have never worked with the engine itself actually set standards for the rest of the world to follow?

The last one is easily answered: They have the money and you don't. So, they get to set the standards by sending someone, anyone, to the conference to represent the company to try and set their idea of these things as standards for the rest of the world to follow. 'Twas always thus and thus 'twill always be.

New rumour: PegaSystems bought Chordiant, a really neat little business flow management company (more of a CRM actually), for a paltry $161M. That puts Tata consultancy and CitiBank in partnership with Pega as well as Chordiant now. Pretty soon there will be one big company (probably IBM or Oracle) that will own everything and nothing will work properly because everyone is trying to get their stuff to be he "standard" by which all others will have to follow. Something like PRR at OMG. (See? You knew that I would bring everything full circle eventually, now didn't you?)


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Conflict Resolution in Rules - Part 1


One more time - and this will be the first part of several editions on the subject. Later blogs will consider the details of the various Conflict Resolutions (CR) systems, when to use which one, and why each one is important. So, since CR has been such a critical part of a rulebased systems in the past, why is it that most rulebased systems being written and used today use either priority (salience) or the order of the rules as they were entered into the system to resolve conflict resolution? The answer is simple: It's easier to code the engine that way. Only a few (4 at last count) of today's rulebase engines still allow you to have a system that can allow you to depend on a true conflict resolution. Dr. Forgy discussed this with John McDermott way back in the 1980's in an article ("Production System Conflict Resolution Strategies; Pattern-Directed Inference Systems") that emphasized the importance of CR. Later, they wrote that MEA (Means-Ends-Analysis) was a slightly better system of CR than was LEX (Lexicographical) and WHY we can not use conflict resolution as a center of intelligence. It's a way to think about rules and how they should be enforced, not the rules themselves.

So why have most vendors moved away from MEA? Ease of programming AND because most Java programmers who are pretending to be rulebased consultants or engine programmers have no understanding of CR nor its importance to rules in general. So, why IS CR so blooming important? Aren't the rules just put into a big bucket enough to do the job? Two-part answer: (1) For a small job with less than a few thousand rules, you probably won't see any difference; usually because the "architect" has been able to arrange the rules and objects such that the CR has little or not effect on the performance nor the answer. (2) However, for a large project (10K rules or more along with several thousand objects) the process of "thinking" about the rules becomes paramount.

Think of it this way: If your rulebase is concerned with only one project, one problem (an insurance policy approval comes to mind) then all of the rules are, for all practical purposes, focused on solving a single problem. However, what if you have to think about a lot of things at one time, much like the human mind has to deal with many problems at one time and all of them in different time slots and conflicting time slots and many shades of priorities? Conflict Resolution is best discussed in some of the text books listed at http://www.kbsc.com/aiBooks.html because the academics (and this is NOT a derogatory term) don't have to support the idea of CR when actually writing a rulebased engine.

Here is a proposition: If you are using priority of the rules ONLY as the method of CR, then you may as well write the system in straight-up Java. It would, after all, be far easier to understand, to write and to put into operation. If you are using the order of entry as the means of resolving the CR, then why NOT just use a straight-up CASE statement or a huge IF-THEN system of Java clauses. After all, isn't that the kind of technique that is being taught in most rulebased classes?

Ah, because both the CASE statement nor the IF-THEN clause are monotonic - meaning that you can go through the rules one time and then quit. But, really now; implementing nonmonotonicity in either clause is just a matter of bookkeeping a huge WHILE clause (or maybe several while clauses) of some kind. So then, again, why use CR to resolve which rule to fire next?

The answer is that we are trying to insert some kind of intelligence into the system. CR of rules in the human brain is one of its distinguishing features in comparison to computers. Most of the CR in the human brain is done through the neural network of the brain and is not a cut-and-dried process as you might think at first. When we lose the ability to directly affect the thought process of the brain, we become stumbling idiots incapable of the simplest tasks. When we refuse to us CR for rules, we move from an intelligent rulebase to an idiot rulebase. It has been shown that as we remove the CR from the rules we do two things: (1) We make them far more fragile and (2) we make rule maintenance a nightmare.

Please, Rulebase Designers: Stop and think. Push back to the project manager who says that CR is not important because your competitor has dropped it and nobody noticed it. (Which might be true.) But, unfortunately, if the developers at that company did notice, there probably is very little that they could do other than complain and since the developers are not the ones who pay the bills, they wouldn't be noticed back at the vendor level. But what leaving CR out of the rulebase mix has done is to move us further and further away from what was, at one time, one of the defining factors of intelligent rules and a step up from the straight up IF-THEN rules of COBOL, C, C++ and/or Java.

Yes, I know that someone who actually lived back then will say that the only reason that they did this was to increase performance. Well, partially, that's true. BUT, that is not the main reason.

Next time: What is MEA and LEX and how do they differ both from each other and from common paradigms of CR. Thanks for listening...


Warm Sunday Afternoons


Imagine for a moment that it's a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon in a city other than home. Your're sitting here in a strange hotel room trying to think of what you should have ready for tomorrow and for the all-day meetings all of next week on various topics, sub-topics and sub-sub-topics that will, eventually, decide what your product and your fate will become for the next few years. On the one hand, it's exciting, exhilarating and makes you feel more alive than anything else. On the other, there's the fear and dread of failure to live up to what you think you can do, what others think you can do to keep your established place in the market place and, if possible, to improve it; whether by leaps and bounds or even just bit by bit.

So, try as you might, you seek to think creatively without being obviously silly and, as my musician son would put it, without being "cheesy"; without so obviously trying to grab the attention of the market place with cheap tricks and shallow reasoning. Whatever you do it simply has to be solid and something that the market place needs and can't do without. It has to be something that is substantial and which, at the same time, won't create too radical a change in the way things are being done presently otherwise you will have a completely new product.

So, here we go - I'm asking for your help: What do you think that the "market place" of rulebased systems needs most? What is it that we can do for a product that it needs to be an even better product than it is today? Let's assume that you already have the finest Product Managers in the business, some of the most talented developers (engineers) that any company could want, and the God Father of Rulebased Systems himself as the chief scientists working on the problems and design analysis. With all of that, why would you have to ask for more help? Because it is the technical public, the business analysts, the USERS of the systems who can help a company define what a rulebased system should be and what it should and should not do.

[Back to first person] From our Ivory Towers, we can not predict what will be a "hit" and what will be a "miss" in this business. We have to get down in the trenches where those who work with our product or any other product day after day and find out what they want and, even more importantly, why they want it. It isn't enough to have one or more users to say that they want an engine that will solve a particular problem in a certain manner and give the appropriate answers, we have to know WHY that problem should be on the immediate need list and HOW that solution will make business easier for users.

Please feel free to either comment or contact me directly.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Why Should I Care About Un-enforced Standards?


During these days of smaller and smaller budgets, way too many times, vendors, especially the smaller vendors, don't care about standards unless they directly affect sales today or next month. OK, maybe if they affect sales this year. But, here's the problem: Belonging to a standards committee is, many times, a defensive measure (to keep your product from being written out of the standards) or an overt attempt to directly influence the committee into accepting that YOUR standards as the only (or maybe just one of two) standard. A third, and unusually rare problem, is that the vendor is seen as doing one of the above when, all the time, their intentions are totally altruistic and in the interest of the industry as a whole - meaning that they are one of the "good guys".

And that is what we should be doing: Writing standards that help our industry to establish definitions so that we can have a common language so that when we talk with customers we can say that we adhere to standard XYZ and the customer know that when they say "blatherskater" it has the same meaning to both of us as well as any competitor that adheres to that standard.

But what if we adhere to our industry standards, what if we are concerned about our industry and we (all of us) are trying our best to be sure that we all agree on standards. Now, what if one of us should fail to adhere to one of those standards and produce a product that claims to adhere to that standard and the product does not adhere to that standard. What happens then? If there is no governing body to reinforce some kind of sanction, the standard is valueless. If the standards are not enforced by a governing body that can enforce some kind of economic sanction, or even a legal sanction, when there are violations of those accepted industry standards, then the standards have no value.

Back to the original question: Why should I care if they are not being enforced? Because we, all of us, have a duty and an obligation (especially the "Thought Leaders" such as FICO and IBM) to "do the right thing" even when no one is looking nor checking. The servant of the most value to the master is the one who does what is right and proper even when the master will never know nor find out. That is what is known as a "trusted servant." And we, the leaders of the industry, must do what is right and proper with respect to standards and ethics even when we know that we don't have to those things and that there is no retribution when we get caught doing the wrong thing. We, the "thought leaders" of our various industries, must be "Trusted Servants" of the industry.

All that being said, we MUST follow our own standards upon which we all will have agreed even when it means that we will take some kind of financial hit. The hardest thing of all is combating the argument, "But if we do this thing (that we know is wrong) it will cost us more money and if we don't do it no one will find out and even if they do find out, so WHAT? There's nothing that they can do about it." (Yes, I worked in sales for a year or so and heard all of that kind of thing.)

Hopefully, this won't be my last blog on this subject. Maybe next time I'll go after JSR-94 and what it means to have a standard that can be observed but means absolutely nothing to anyone whether you adhere to it or not. Maybe...


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Blaze Advisor


Well, we're all working our tails off over here trying to get Blaze Advisor 6.9 out the door this quarter (more exact dates will come later) and start ramping up for Blaze Advisor 7.0 I've seen the new and improved 6.9 and it looks really good. For starters, the GUI part has been improved and a lot lof the suggestions from the users have been incororated into it. Advisor 7.0 will be even better, but 6.9 still has a LOT of really good stuff coming out.

I did work with Yaakov at KBSC to do some benchmarks for a client the other day to see how many trivial rows of a five column Decision Table we could put into a BA 6.8 Decision Table using Vista 64-bit O/S, 12GB of RAM and Java 6 JDK 64-bit. A lot of stuff was running in the background but still it installed and compiled a single table with 250,000+ rows. A single table (NOT the sane way to design a table) but someone had asked the question so we decided to just see what we could do. Certainly I hope that no one ever tries to do this in real life but at least we know what can be done.

Which brings up the question of proper rulebase architecture, something often forgotten. Just as you would not ask a beginner to design you database (you would get a certified DBA) then, in the same line of logic, you need a real RuleBase Architect to design and help maintain an enterprise rulebase. Going to a one-week (or three week) school certainly will get you started, but you need a professional if you have more the, say, 2K or 3K rules and you're running with a commercial database and a commercial server and any commercial anything. You MUST have the right person for the big jobs, and usuall that's one of the vendor's guys from the plant who has the contacts to reach out and touch for help in really sticky problems.

Well, enough for now. Check back later and I'll try to have more goodies for you. OR, a better idea, just sign up for the RSS feed and read them whenever they are posted.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Collaboration and Participation

Rules Fest 2010 Conference - Feb 15th


Jason Morris is the leader of the new and improved Rules Fest 2010 - formerly known as October Rules Fest. This is known as REALLY short notice but I've blogged almost everywhere else and forgotten this one. The conference begins at 10:00 CST, 2:00 p.m. London time, 3:00 p.m. Paris and Munich, 8:00 a.m. in San Francisco.

Just go out to http://www.dimdim.com and register for the jcmorris-mts conference.


Monday, February 1, 2010

October Rules Fest 2010 Update


FYI - Because I took a job with a vendor (FICO, the #1 Rulebase/BRMS in the world) as a Product Manager, Jason Morris of Morris Technical Services is now the Honcho of ORF. His # 2 guy (for now) is Mark Proctor and I think # 3 is either Rolando Hernandez or Jacob Feldman.

AND, the name might change - stay tuned for further developments. Film at 11. :-)

Seriously, Jason is going to need lots and lots of help; both time and money, from anyone who wants to be part of the group. Those of us who are vendors can help but I don't think that we should have an "official" position in the group. And, furthermore, if you want to be a REAL part of the group, then you will become a partner of the group, meaning that if the event loses money you lose money, if it makes money you make money. Vendor employees would be greatly encouraged to become partners. Perhaps there would be a partner list:

Diamond Partner: $10K / annum
Platinum Partner: $5K / annum
Gold Partner: $2K / annum
Partner: $1K / annum

And the partners could be listed on the web page itself. This would be similar to Art Groups where some of the more financially-gifted persons would be able to help in a more substantial way. Partners could be individuals or companies. There might even be certain benefits to being higher-level partners. That's for Jason to figure out, not me.

However, it has been a GREAT run for the past three years. Truly, I have enjoyed it and I would like to mention those who have made it possible - and I know I will leave someone out:
  • Dr. Charles Forgy and Gary Riley: These two gave the conference the credibility that made everything else possible.
  • Greg Barton (my strong right arm and without whom ORF would NOT have been possible.)
  • Rolando Hernandez (2008 would not have happened without him and Ile doing the web pages and the brochures.)
  • Pete Carapetyn for helping get the 2008 conference off the ground.
  • Carole Ann Berlioz-Matignon, formerly of FICO / Fair Isaac and now an independent consultant. She devoted time and energy and, most importantly, lots and lots of money (Diamond Sponsor both years) to the event. Without her, well, we would have been way, WAY in the hole.
  • Carlos Seranno-Morales, also formerly of FICO / Fair Isaac and now an independent consultant. His support came in the way of money (YES!) and a couple of really great presentations.
  • David Kim of Visual Rules, 2008 Gold Sponsor.
  • Mark Proctor, Edson Tirelli, Chris Verlaelen and others from Drools in both 2008 and 2009. Their Drools boot camps (both years) accounted for almost 25% of the attendees and almost all of the European attendees.
  • Academic Speaker such as Dr. Leon Kappelman (University of North Texas), Dr. Gopal Gupta (University of Texas at Dallas) and Dr. Daniel Levine (University of Texas at Arlington). For the 2010 conference (by whatever name) I'm hoping that Jason will get them to play an even greater part in the conference but already they are the academic foundation of ORF.
  • Larry Terrill who laid out the foundation of the Rete Algorithm for all beginners in a way that managers, students, academics, ANYONE could understand. Totally fantastic job!
  • Daniel Selman of ILOG who gave a great presentation in 2008 and, even after the conference, helped financially to make up some of the losses. Who else would contribute to a conference as a sponsor AFTER the conference was over???? What a guy!!
  • Dr. Rick Hicks (Texas A&M) who keeps reminding us of the Validation and Verification process for ANY rulebased process. I, for one, certainly hope that he returns every year to keep reminding us of the hazards and pitfalls of any technical project.
  • Thomas Cooper (Distinguished Guest 2009) and one of the God Fathers of Rulebased Systems for his enlightening talks and insightful questions. His presence at the Pub Nights was a blessing as well.
  • Paul Vincent (Tibco), Edson Tirelli (Drools), Charles Young (Solid Soft) and Adam Mollenkopf (FedEx) for their insights into Complex Event Processing. Hopefully 2010 will have even more on this subject.
  • David Holtz and Luke Voss for reminding us of our AI heritage and bringing the conference back home whenever we tended to stray from our roots. Both guys are scary brilliant and I hope that they return each and every year.
  • Finally, the ground rod of the group, Jason Morris, who started the Jess Boot Camp last year and has agreed to pick up the reins and make sure that ORF will always be the real conference BY developers and FOR developers.
Thanks to all of you and I know that I left someone out - probably several someones. :-) Regardless, it's been a great run, lots of fun, and I will be back next time as a speaker. So, if you can find it in your heart to contribute just $1K toward the next conference, I urge you to contact Jason and make your contribution. We, the developers, the geeks, the trolls under the bridge that keep the wheels of progress turning, should be able to make this happen each and every year. Please help Jason get this together and make 2010 even better and bigger than 2008 or 2009 ever dared to hope to be.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dallas Rules Group - 2010


As some of you just learned, I will be working with FICO Product Management full time beginning on Monday, 25 Jan 2010. BUT, I still hope to lead (or co-lead) the Dallas Rules Group (DRG) now that the DRG has returned to its roots of being a local group of rulebase developers. Greg Barton (Southwest Airlines Rule Architect) has agreed to co-host and help lead the group with various kinds of projects.

Now, understand, this could be BRMS (Business Rules Management System) or it might be any other kind of rulebase that is used for forecasting, scheduling, configuration management, diagnosis, homeland security, airport/bus/train security or solving any truly complex problem that might have insufficient data and insufficient knowledge and then reporting on probable results.

So, beginning on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, we will convene (for now) at IBM in Dallas. Later, we might move to either the Sun Location or the Improving Enterprises location on North Dallas Tollway. What I would hope for in addition to DRG would be an Austin Rules Group, a Houston Rules Group, an XXX Rules Group - all local and all coming to October Rules Fest (ORF) each year to participate in a truly technical conference focused on technology and solutions rather than a business-oriented dog-and-pony show. The business guys have many, many conferences of their own, both by vendors such as FICO and ILOG, as well as the granddaddy of them all, the Business Rules Forum (BRF) hosted by Ron Ross et cie. (I hope that the business guys will attend the FICO user conferences that we do annually on many different topics.)

So, see you guys on the 2 Tuesday of each month. Check the web page (hopefully it will be up before the end of the month) for each months location, time, etc.


Going Home...


Quite a long time ago, there was an old spiritual song called "Going Home." Sometimes I think of that and realize that I don't really have a home. Yesterday a friend of mine asked me if I had ever been outside of the state of Texas - probably because I'm constantly promoting West Texas as THE place to live and work. For curiosity's sake I listed for him the places that I have worked or lived for at least two weeks (most for several months) in my brief life: The list contained 45 different cities, about 8 countries and did not count the few vacation spots. Home for me is where I hang my hats (about 10 of them) and set up my computers (about 7 or 8). Out of all those places and towns, I made the conscious decision to choose West Texas as my home. If there were a number two or three selection it probably would be either San Francisco, CA, or Paris, France.

Anyway, this is not a blog on where I've lived nor how many hat I have nor even the number of computers that I use for various types of research. Rather, it's about returning to the AI family of Neuron Data / Blaze Software / Fair Isaac / FICO. Beginning tomorrow morning (25 Jan 2010) I will be, once again, working with FICO in Product Management - mostly working on Blaze Advisor but, hopefully, branching out into business optimization software such as analytics and forecasting. After all, my master's degree was focused in Quantitative Analysis and Forecasting and I wrote my first white papers (part of my thesis back then) on rulebased systems as used to do early analysis of statistical data for proper analysis.

So, what about the benchmarking programs and things of that nature that I have been doing at KBSC all these years? Again, I'm calling on my old friend in Sweetwater, Texas, Yaakov Kohen, former CTO of KBSC and present-day horse-wrangler, to step in and do that. I will be giving all of my material over to him, along with the spreadsheets, to keep up to date. So, if you have any questions, please contact him at mailto:yaakov@kbsc.com in the future. Don't expect a quick reply since he is just a bit over 70 and still has the ranch to manage in addition to doing benchmarks, writing white papers and doing forecasting programs.

I suppose that Yaakov might be able to wrangle an article or two in InfoWorld should the editors there see past his advanced years and consider only that he is one of the brightest minds in the industry, one of my few mentors, and fairly forthright (non-diplomatic) in his opinions. Also, he is an excellent shot (sniper level) with both rifle and pistol. You HAVE to be to live in Sweetwater - it's the home of the annual Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup every year. An shooting pesky coyotes that tend to bring down a whole cow for just a snack on the open range calls for shots of about 1K yards or more.

October Rules Fest will be turned over to one of several person who have expressed an interest in the masochism of conference leadership. We have a 3:00 p.m. conference call tomorrow to kick that off for 2010 and, if you would like to be part of that, just send me your Skype ID and I'll see if I can get it on the list before the call starts.

All in all, I'm looking forward to returning to work with some good friends and moving Blaze Advisor to even greater heights. I'm not sure that this blog will continue - maybe FICO will let me start one with a FICO address like some other folks there.


Thursday, January 7, 2010


About the same time that Texas became a nation (1934, to become a state nine years later), Richard Henry Dana, Jr., began writing an American classic novel called "Two Years Before the Mast" - an intriguing story of his last two years as a common sailor on board the Alert. He finished it about 1840, five years before Texas became a state via a treaty between the two nations. It has become my considered opinion after 30 years in service to various software vendors and 15 years working with rulebase vendors, (I call it "30 Years Before the Mast") that their engineers should pass a two-year (or more) training course as a consultant for that company BEFORE EVER being allowed to touch one line of code.

I say this after having spent considerable time with engineers who work for various (really) major rulebase companies. I have not encountered one (not one at the engineering level) who has ever had to make his living working with customers and, as a direct result, has absolutely no idea about how the their tool is actually used. I do know that there are those who help with consulting who have served their time in engineering, but not the reverse; except for Dr. Charles Forgy and Paul Haley. OK, there may be one or two more but I don't know them.

So, is there a problem? You betcha, Red Ryder!! And a major problem it is as well. It seems that you can't communicate with these guys about real-world problems because they can not grasp the entire problem at once and possibly foresee other problems that might result from their "quick fix" solution. So they slap a band aid (plaster to you English guys) on the problem and really hope and pray that it actually works.

Now, Heads UP senior engineering management guys: make sure that your staff has "real world" experience in actually USING your software BEFORE allowing them to make even the first modification.