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Sun Apr 11 17:07:50 EDT 2010

To SQL or not to SQL?

I have no good intuition about dealing with databases.  Let's look at
the design space when using databases:

    1. query language (SQL, Scheme, ...)
    2. storage medium (memory, disk, server, ...)
    3. update vs. query patterns

Where 1. isn't a real issue (as long as you can express what you want
to know it's fine) and 2. is pure implementation.  However, 3. is
quite a constraint.  

If there are no updates, data representation can be heavily optimized
(compiled) to fit the need of the queries.  (like in ramblings.ss)

If there are updates, consistency becomes a serious problem, and needs
to be solved properly, i.e. the ACID[1] principle, while caches are
usually too complicated to keep up-to-date.  The reason you want to
sqeeze things into a single SQL query is exactly that.

So that's one axis: mutable vs. immutable (where ramblings.ss is
mutable but the representation uses a cache).

Another axis is relational vs. non-relational.  See next post.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ACID



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