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Answers to your Technical Questions

also known as Qs & As or FAQ's

What is BigSur?

Why the name 'BigSur'?

What's the "end-to-end" problem?

What's the "Query From Hell"?

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What is BigSur?

This question has a three part answer:

  • University BigSur: BigSur is the informal name of the "Alternative Architecture for an end-to-end solution to EOS-DIS" research project at the University of California, Berkeley. 'The BigSur Project' sounds so much nicer, doesn't it? The projects goals were to take the knowledge gained from the Sequoia 2000 research project and build a prototype. The prototype was successful, and Langley requested  commercial version be created for them.
  • Commercial BigSur: The research had been known as "BigSur" and the name has stuck to the commercialized version as well. It's catchy and short, so why not keep it? Note that none of our products are called "BigSur" as the term generally refers to the system as a whole, rather than its individual component parts.
  • The BigSur System is a data-centric system designed to manage the scientific enterprise. Would you like more information?...

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Why the name BigSur, and why no space between "Big" and "Sur"?

For a period of time California place names became vogue for research projects in the database group at UCB. The predecessor project was named for Sequoia national park... Yosemite seemed too pretentious. There was a lot of interest in research in water among project participants, and the project seemed difficult; the souls who endeavoured must indeed be a hearty lot. So the rugged coast-line known as Big Sur (just south of Monterey) seemed appropriate. The area has its Giant Redwoods too, so the tie-in with Sequoia seemed quite appropriate.

No space is used between the words Big and Sur because spaces in file names and in various other places in computing can be problematic; it was eliminated for practical reasons, and the shorter, concatenated version stuck.


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What's the "end-to-end" problem?

The term "End-To-End" is essentially a description of a desire of scientific systems users; To handle and / or track scientific data from raw data collection through all intermediate processing steps to the end uses and end results within a single sysem, including tracking to where the end products are dessiminated to. The term's history is at least as old as the original NASA Mission-To-Planet-Earth, as that was the rallying cry of the earth science community at the time: Manage our data from end-to-end!

Because the scope of a solution is beyond the thinking of most systems developers, but not beyond the wishes of their users, there is often a great disconnect between the definition of the "end points" between these groups. So far as we are aware - and we are always looking - Science Tools is the only vendor in the scientific marketplace who takes the two end-points to their far extremes and who literally expects to be capable of handling and managing data from these two end points. Please let us know if we are mistaken!


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What's the "Query From Hell?

The original Query-From-Hell was the concept of a merging of science: If you could take two disparate datatypes and combine them in a single query in a scientifically valid way in a general-purpose scientific system, then you were doing something really special! Nobody thought it was possible! Yet, the BigSur project at UC Berkeley did it!

The UC Berkeley team accomplished the Query-From-Hell by inserting the TCL tool kit into the brains of the Postgres and Illustra database engines along with a clever abstraction of the problem, implemented in the database schema and cooperating code. Scientific processes, including conversion routines between scientific types, were implemented by using scripts written in TCL as the "glue" that called sophisticated programs for subsetting, re-gridding and the like and then which brought together all the resulting pieces.


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