Monday, October 31, 2011

(October) Rules Fest 2011, Part Deux


That "Cosa Nostra" (our thing) that Greg Barton, Rolando Hernandez and I started in 2008 as nothing more than a gathering of geeks and nerds has been transformed into a real conference by Charles Young and Jason Morris; complete with continental breakfast every morning; sponsor-provided lunch (no vendor pitch during lunch this year) with fish, beef and/or pork, really good veggies and salads. They also provided a really good evening affair (shrimp, ice cream, tandoori chicken strips, etc, for "Pub Time" - complete with an open bar for those who stayed around.

Very few folks went out anywhere at night - most stayed in the conference "Pub" for chatting and the free bar. The conference is now branching into AI and Machine Learning, Event-Driven Process Management, Predictive Analytics and RuleBased Forecasting. I was the only one doing RBF this year while Carlos Seranno-Morales (formerly chief engineer for FICO and now Chief Engineer for Sparkling Logic) will be doing the Predictive Analytics next year. But the invited speakers, such as Dr. Ng and Dr. Tabet, were/are some of the absolute best in their respective fields. We also had the other creators of rulebased systems such as Paul Haley (Inference and Haley AI), Dr. Jacob Feldman (Open Rules) and Mark Proctor (Drools). The ONLY one missing was Dr. Friedman-Hill (Jess) but we had the only approved instructor for Jess there in the form of Jason Morris.

I don't feel that they really gave Dr. Forgy (inventor of the Rete, Rete 2, Rete III and Rete NT Algorithms for rulebased system) the publicity that he deserved in the brochures nor the home page, no formal presentation (he probably was thankful for that), etc. Maybe it was something that he and Jason arranged since he really is not a big-time vendor but more of a "skunk works" (meaning a research center). He only had a scripted chat with Carlos Seranno-Morales during a Wednesday afternoon session. Carole Ann Berlioz-Matignon (CEO of Sparkling Logic) was asking questions of Carlos and Dr. Forgy. Dr. Forgy is now Chief Scientist for Sparkling Logic that was started by Carole Ann and Carlos. Remember, this year we were in San Francisco and only a stones throw from Palo Alto, home of most early Internet companies as well as Stanford, one of the four big AI Universities. (CMU, MIT and Boston College being the other three.)

They stuck Rolo and myself in the small breakout sessions rather than boring everyone with it. Rolo was highly upset and felt insulted because originally both he and I had been scheduled to do our presentations for the entire conference and there was not enough of an audience in the break-outs, usually about 10 or 12 per track. Probably his presentation would be a better fit for The Rule Forum with Ron Ross; I know that he would get a much bigger audience. Especially since he told everyone that he no longer does any code work, which is a Bozo-No-No at the (O)RF conference. Me? Well, truthfully, RBF is highly mathematical (which most programmers forgot when they left school) and, unless you are really into statistics and such, it might be a bit boring. But, for those who are having to do that kind of thing, it was a bit of fun to see that Rules Fest is growing and getting into more and more things.

I didn't stick around for the Thursday and Friday boot camps on Drools, Jess and Open Rules. I'm sure that they were quite good but having grown up with Drools and Jess I would have learned less than the other attendees and probably would have been quite a drag by asking too many "high-level" questions. Dr. Friedman-Hill once asked Richard Halsey (now deceased) to please quit pestering the beginners on his email support lines with statements such as RTFM, Read the Fabulous Manual.

All-in-all, I think that we are watching the development of something wonderful; the birth of a really, truly unique conference; one that is dedicated to the technical aspects of what we are doing rather the the more visible parts, vendor success stories and product demos. As a matter of fact, this is the bridge between the RuleML / RIF / OMG and other semi-technical conference and Rule Forum.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

(October) Rules Fest 2011 Day 2


This conference has been truly outstanding. I had one rule godfather tell me that I should get the video of Paul Haley because it was truly outstanding. The afternoon sessions are great - right now I'm "cheating" because I'm supposed to be watching Carlos Seranno-Morales talk on Data Analytics for Rule Writers, etc. Ronald Bowers of the US Army Research gave an excellent talk on writing rules for very large hospitals for those with massive injuries of soldiers returning from the war front. (He has even read the work on the MYCIN project by Buchannan and Shortliffe.) Fred McClimas gave a talk yesterday on 2020 Foundation for discovering and determining the effect of event-driven rules and systems that would "see" the Tsumani in Japan and alert all markets on the forecast of what would be the fallout in various industries. Fascinating stuff all around. If you didn't come, come next year.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

ORF 2011 and other stuff

October Rules Fest, aka, Rules Fest, is coming up rapidly: Monday, October 24th to be exact. AND, it's going to be in San Francisco just a few miles from the Airport with a shuttle from the airport to the Hilton and/or the conference in the Hyatt Regency. The ORF motto changed last year to "By Developers, for Developers."

So, having racked up thousands and thousands of air miles AND thousands of Hilton points, I'll probably stay in the Hilton and shuttle to the Hyatt just five (really long) blocks away. This conference features such notables as
  • Dr. Charles Forgy (Rete, Rete 2, Rete 3 and Rete NT)
  • Paul Haley, inventor of Haley Expert Rules.
  • Dr. Said Tabet, RuleML Guru
  • Carlos Seranno-Morales, inventor of the FIRST Java-based BRMS
  • Career Center for those job hunters out there'
  • Three days of Exhibitions by Vendors
  • And, of course, Mark Proctor and the Drools team
  • Dr. Jacob Feldman, inventor of Open Rules
  • Daniel Selman, guiding light behind JRules from ILOG/IBM
  • Boot Camps on
  • Drools (Mark Proctor)
  • Rule-Based Design Patterns (Wolfgang Laun)
  • SOAR Architecture (Nate Derbinsky)

Now, to the blog itself. I had a spina bifida corrected (spinal surgery for eight hours!) so I was out of touch for a few months beginning in May. The, it took over two months to get my password reset because Google kept sending me around in circles. Over and over and over again. Finally, today, they let me give them my "secret" info to get in rather than going through the password reset routine. So, the news is that this will no longer be just about rules, rulebased systems and things like that. From now on, I think that I will follow the title of the blog and just wander around on various topics.

Governor Rick Perry: Please don't vote for this guy unless his opponent is a complete idiot. Rick Perry brought lots and lots of jobs to Texas, true; but they are pretty much mostly low paying, minimum wage, 30-hour per week without benefits, jobs. Texas is rapidly becoming an outsourcing country, er, state. I would vote for him over Obama, Malkin, Palin or that other guy who is a Democrat that tries to look Republican. On the other hand, somebody might emerge at this late date who is a real leader.

Obama: You know, every elected President (even Carter and Ford were Lieutenants in the Navy) had prior military service. The exception seems to be Obama. Well, as Perry said, it was apparently his choice and he chose to stay in Chicago and play politics. Personally, I don't know how he gets the gumption to return a salute from a military officer as "Commander in Chief." Maybe that's why he turned down the sale of the F-16s to Taiwan today; whether to get back at Perry (F-16s are made here in Texas) or because he supports Red Communist China against their main (and tiny) foe, Taiwan. [See? I told you I was going to just wander around from now on.]

Forecasting: Well, my short talk this year at ORF 2011 will pick up from last year with more details and more math and a preview of the rules and why we need them. So, if you want to attend my talk, get last years' presentation from ORF 2010 and you'll be ready to take off on Part Two of RuleBased Forecasting, RBF. Right now I have about 100 rules but we'll only discuss two or four of them. After all, there is a bit of math to cover first - nothing tough; just summations and first order derivatives.

My Plans for the future: Probably heading to another gig for three or four months and then off to graduate school to do my Ph.D. in AI if everything gets worked out OK; probably focusing on stats and/or forecasting. Maybe - depends on which mentor I get at the university. The Forgenator has been bugging me about this for years now. I figure if Col. Sanders could start his empire of KFC at age 66, then I can do my Ph.D. and teach somewhere the rest of my life. ("Those who can, DO. Those who can't or won't, TEACH!) :-)

Rete Performance as done by Dr. Forgy:
  • Rete, the original version invented by Dr. Forgy for his Ph.D. Thesis, has been improved and optimized by almost every vendor in existence. But, so far, none have come close to
  • Rete 2: A dramatic improvement over other versions of Rete in terms of performance except for CLIPS (a C/C++ version in the original LISP language) that is as fast if not a wee bit faster than the Java Rete 2.
  • Rete 3: Rete 2 with some hooks for BMS tools such as Rules Power.
  • Rete NT: About 10 times faster than Rete 2 or Rete 3 if the customer forces the vendor to put it in their engine at the nominal price of $5K per CPU. Small price for 10X improvement, don't you think?
Well, stay healthy, keep the sunny side up and the dirty side down, and maybe we'll all meet at ORF 2011 in San Francisco. I promise to wear my Texas Flag Shirt for my talk so everyone knows that "I'm Southern by birth, Texan by the Grace of God." :-)


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Long Time Passing


"Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing..." Old PP&M ballad. I've been locked out of the system for quite a while due to Google's password problems. But I'm back and I hope to see all of you at (October) Rules Fest, - This should be the best one yet.