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Reference Materials

These pages contain brief descriptions of materials both at our site and at others which might be considered "citations". We hope you find these materials informative and interesting.


The Angus Files
  • Read The Angus Files prepared by Dr. Angus MacDonald. He provides some old-world insight into the world of computers as defined by a non-computer person.
  • Science Tools presents Scientist with the honored Angus Award.

Questions and Answers

Product Specific Question and Answers

Many of these Qs & As have been taken directly from some Request For Information (RFI) and or Request For Proposal (RFP) papers we have prepared for potential clients. Since the original RFI responses and additional answers are public, we are not at liberty to disclose certain proprietary information in our reply. We will be pleased to further clarify and demonstrate our technological capabilities in a setting where the information will not be disclosed.

  • A Glossary of Terms
  • A Poster on the "Computational Unification of Science"

VHS Version available upon request


The Alternative Architecture Study

This seminal white-paper, authored by many notable people, including Turing award winner Jim Gray, and our own Michael Stonebraker, was the result of the Sequoia 2000 Research Project discussed below and elsewhere. If you're interested in Earth Science, it's worth reading. Its focus was on outlining an alternative to the then-proposed and later funded Hughes EOS-DIS system now known as ECS, but many of the points it makes are germane to the larger questions of Earth Science. Follow this link for HTML access to it.

The BigSur Research Project: NASA EOS-DIS Alternative Architecture Prototype
The BigSur Research project, more properly known as "The EOS-DIS Alternative Architecture Prototype Project",  was a follow-on to the Sequoia 2000 effort. Its goals were to take the intellectual capital generated by Sequoia 2000 and harness it in development of a functioning system. The architecture was set as a database-centric view of the world. Because so much work had been done previously, and because the staff brought in to implement the system were "database heavyweights", things progressed quickly. A functioning prototype was created within the first 5 months, though its functionality was somewhat limited.
By the close of the first year the system had reached most of its primary goals, and at 18 months, the system was very solid and stretch-goals were being addressed.
For more information, see the University of California, Berkeley, BigSur site. Also of interest are miscellaneous white-papers from the Sequoia 2000 era, notably the seminal "Alternative Architecture Study" which was the vision behind BigSur.

The Sequoia 2000 Research Project
Sequoia 2000 was a very large research project which brought together Earth Scientists from every conceivable discipline. The questions surrounding how to perform Earth Science Computing in an interdisciplinary, distributed manner was the topic for discussion. Issues from remote sensing strategies to visualization technologies to the practical aspects of storage were all addressed in depth. The goal was to create the architecture required, and implement as many of the actual component parts as was possible.
It succeeded in many ways. Progress was made in each discipline, and many fruitful results were obtained. The grant expired before a comprehensive system could be brought together "under one roof". As a consequence, a second, much smaller grant was obtained from NASA and the NSF which sought to create the unifying components. That project was known as BigSur.
For more information, see the University of California, Berkeley, Sequoia 2000 site. There is a substantial technical library available there which houses white-papers of all descriptions.

The ESIP Federation White Papers

A little background on these selected whitepapers: The Earth System Information Partner Federation (ESIP) is a prototype of a federated organization of investigators in Earth science funded by NASA. Science Tools is involved with the ESIP Federation in two ways: We have customers who are Federation members, and our Chief Scientist, Richard Troy, is a named investigator on OceanESIP, one of the Federations members.
We have the following documents pertaining specifically to the ESIP Federation on our site:

American Geophysical Union, Fall 1998 Conference, Session U11A-10

(Thanks to Andrew Alden for finding the previously "missing link")

R: 0830h
AN: U11A-10
TI: Earth Science Data Processing, Storage and Retrieval
AU: *Troy, R M
AF: Berkeley Earth Science Tools, Inc.
613 85th Avenue Oakland, CA 94621 United States
AU: *Troy, R M
AF: University of California, Berkeley
339 Soda Hall Berkeley, CA 94720-1776 United States
AB: In January, 1998, a new database-centric system began production processing Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) data. This new system offers its users a scientifically defensible, general solution for Earth Science data management and processing. The system is exceptionally flexible and is most suited to data which has geospatial and temporal features and for which processing or processing history is important. It offers many promises, among them automation, easy and sophisticated retrieval mechanisms, a real opportunity to foster inter and intra-discipline cooperation, and the end of 're-inventing the wheel' whenever an Earth Science project is undertaken.

The author will discuss how meta-data regarding processing is structured to constitute a work-flow system, and how this leads to scientific defensibility through known lineage of all data products. Illustration of how scientific processes are encapsulated will illuminate how the system may dispatch them to be executed when desired, how this may be automated, and how previously written processes and functions are integrated into the new system.

Meta-data basics will illustrate how intricate relationships may easily be represented and used to good advantage. Retrieval techniques will be discussed including trade-offs of using meta-data versus embedded data, how the two may be integrated, and how simplifying assumptions may or may not help.

This system is based upon the experience of the Sequoia 2000 and BigSur research projects at the University of California, Berkeley, whose goals were to find an alternative to the Hughes EOS-DIS system. In continuity of the Climate and Global Change theme of this conference, the system is being deployed at UCLA under Roberto Mechoso for use with his Earth System Model.
DE: 9810 New fields (not classifiable under other headings)
DE: 9820 Techniques applicable in three or more fields
DE: 6339 System design
DE: 6344 System operation and management
MN: 1998 Fall Meeting

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