RISE Seminar 9/14/18 : Actor-Oriented Database Systems, a talk by Phil Bernstein

September 14, 2018

Title:                  Actor-Oriented Database Systems

Speaker:            Philip A. Bernstein

Affiliation:         Microsoft Research

Date and location: Friday, September 14, 12:30 – 1:30 pm; Wozniak Lounge (430 Soda Hall)


Many of today’s interactive, stateful, server applications are processor-intensive and must be scalable and elastic. Hence, they are usually implemented as middle-tier objects backed by a key-value store in cloud storage, rather than as stored procedures in a database system. This enables the system to scale elastically by adding or removing inexpensive middle-tier servers. Example applications include multi-player games, social networking, mobile computing, telemetry, and Internet of Things. When the objects are single-threaded and do not share memory, they are called actors. There are dozens of programming frameworks for building actor applications, such as Akka, Erlang, Orbit, and Orleans.

Although the applications do not use a database system, they can benefit from database abstractions, such as transactions, indexing, queries, streams, replication, and geo-distribution. We therefore propose a new type of database system, called an actor-oriented database system, which supports these features over middle-tier objects and which works with any cloud storage system. As in a persistent programming language, these features must be well-integrated into the programming language, but the emphasis here is on distributed computing capabilities rather than language integration. In this talk, we will describe the requirements for such a system, the technical challenges in building it, and solutions to some of the challenges.


Philip A. Bernstein is a Distinguished Scientist at Microsoft Research. He has published over 150 papers and two books on the theory and implementation of database systems, especially on transaction processing and data integration, which are still the major focus of his research. He is an ACM Fellow, a AAAS Fellow, a winner of ACM SIGMOD’s Codd Innovations Award, a member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. He received a B.S. degree from Cornell and M.Sc. and Ph.D. from University of Toronto.