Who Said It? “any backward chaining engine must eventually…”

January 7, 2010

I found a quote that James Owen used on the JESS mailing list and I’m interested in learning where it comes from. More specifically, is it in a paper or article somewhere and I’m just overlooking it? My suspicion is that James is quoting Dr. Charles Forgy and that it isn’t published in any articles.

I’ll email James to check the source – but I wanted to highlight the quote here since it was only used on the JESS list and could use a little more exposure.

“Any forward chaining engine can be made to do backward chaining and any backward chaining engine must eventually forward chain to deliver results.”

Updated on January 13, 2010:
James has confirmed (via email) that he was paraphrasing Dr. Charles Forgy here. The comment apparently was made during OPSJ training classes.

Rules Research Archaeology

January 7, 2010

Most readers should be familiar with George Santayana‘s quote about remembering the past (also called Santayana’s Law of Repetitive Consequences).

The rise of the BRMS over the last few years has brought lots of enthusiastic new members to our little rules world. These people are eager to contribute to the field and make their own mark. It is the job of the “old guard” to make sure the newcomers are properly aware of the prior research in our field. (Having only participated in the space since 1995, I consider myself to still be a newcomer.) For example, the rise of the multi-core processor means that tons of older research in parallel rule engines is of interest and relevant. For another example, the classic work on conflict resolution strategies doesn’t appear to be online and is in a long out-of-print 30-year-old book. (And at least the prices for “Pattern-Directed Inference Systems” are somewhat affordable – as of this writing, “Human Problem Solving” starts at $190 and goes up to $800 on Amazon.) A third example is that the Wikipedia article on the Rete algorithm only has references to papers that are not online for one reason or another. (I personally haven’t even seen the “A network match routine for production systems.” working paper.)

Thus, I would like to highlight a few useful resources:

We need to work together as a group to improve the online availability of our history.

Another .NET Rete Implementation – NRuler

January 7, 2010

I just spotted another .NET implementation of Rete – NRuler. The site shows only 10 downloads, but it seems to have been live less than a month so far. Any of the 10 downloaders care to share their impressions? How does it compare with NxBRE or SRE?

(As an aside, I spotted NRuler because it is linked in the “See also” section of the Wikipedia article on Rete. At best, the link to NRuler should be an “External link” rather than a “See also” – and probably not even that. As an industry, we need to stop spamming this article with promotional product-specific links. Yes, I know that NRuler isn’t a commercial product, but I don’t see any reason for it to be linked there over any other piece of software.)

Another Dormant .NET Rule Engine Project: Simple Rule Engine

January 6, 2010

I recently stumbled across another rule engine for .NET that I hadn’t seen before: Simple Rule Engine (SRE).

Looks dormant, or possibly dead altogether. If any readers have tried it out, I welcome comments about your experiences with it.

NxBRE Project Seems To Have Gone Dormant

September 1, 2009

Not sure why I didn’t spot this before, but it appears that the NxBRE project (a .NET rule engine) has recently gone dormant. Cheers to David for all the work he put in over the years.

BizTalk Server 2009 Released

May 3, 2009

If you were watching for it, some recent press confirms that BizTalk Server 2009 is now available.

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Small World

December 7, 2008

Gary Riley’s comment here on November 6 alerted me to a book that I didn’t have: The Engineering of Knowledge-Based Systems: Theory and Practice by Avelino J. Gonzalez and Douglas D. Dankel. So, I went to Amazon to track it down. The book is out of print, so I purchased a used copy.

When my copy arrived a little while ago, I quickly noticed that the owner’s name written inside the cover was that of John Durkin, the noted author of Expert Systems: Design and Development. I spotted it quickly since at a previous employer this book (along with Gary Riley’s book) was used in both internal and external training.

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October Rules Fest: A Wishlist

December 7, 2008

Clearing out some of the backlog of drafts, it seems I have one more post on this topic to wrap up…

Here are some thoughts on content for future October Rules Fest gatherings. This is, of course, highly subjective.

In general, I think James Owen shouldn’t have to bear the burden of organizing all the content. I think there should be a small panel of folks to solicit, select and approve the content. In addition, I think there should be plenty of lead time and slides should have to be presented in advance. Better yet, let’s have real papers rather than just PPT slides.

As my friend Larry says “it’s still the wild west”. The spectrum of talks that can be given is still very wide. Here are some topics I would like to see included.

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Cloud Rules

December 7, 2008

These days, I tend to err on the side of saying less about what we are working on. In general, my current approach is one of only talking about products that have already shipped or topics where I can point towards published materials. That’s part of joining a new company and learning what you can and can’t talk about – so I err on the side of caution these days.

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Surveying the Platform Player Rules Acquisitions

December 7, 2008

Jim Sinur of Gartner has a fairly recent post where he surveys the platform players and their recent acquisitions of rules technologies. Jim looks at each player and gives his opinions on their offerings, the technology they purchased, and what they will likely do with it.

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