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Benchmarking complex event processing systems

Final Activity Report Summary - BICEP (Benchmarking Complex Event Processing Systems)

Funding for the BICEP project was awarded to Pedro Bizarro, a Computer Science researcher living and working in the USA in 2006. The project had two main goals. As a research project, the first goal was to produce a performance evaluation of complex event processing (CEP) systems. CEP is a new class of data management systems that determine what is happening in real-time and is being used in life- or mission-critical scenarios such as hospital intensive care units or financial markets. Interestingly, most CEP scenarios have very different characteristics in terms of types of data, or frequency and complexity of the operations performed.

% Do CEP systems degrade gracefully with increasing loads? Are there situations where some engines can be used safely (e.g. financial fraud detection, where throughput is high) and other situations where they should not be used (e.g. emergency care units, where throughput is low but the cost of false-positives is high)? To answer these and other questions, the BICEP project set out to produce novel performance metrics, measuring techniques, and benchmarks. This goal was clearly achieved: a novel benchmark infrastructure was developed (demonstrated at DEBS'2008), the benchmarks and results were presented at TPC-TP'2009, and a tutorial is going to be presented at WOSP/SIPEW'2010 Intl. Conf. on Performance Engineering. The results are clear: no engine dominates all others, performance varies wildly with data or query complexity, and stability depends on the engine used. These findings will allow to better decide which CEP engines to use in life- or mission-critical scenarios.

As a Marie Curie International Re-integration Grant, the second major goal of the project was to help a European researcher return to Europe and establish his research team. This goal was also clearly achieved. Since the start of the project, the researcher created a team of two Ph.D. and five Master's students, collaborated with professors in his department, in Europe or abroad, and has taken a leadership role in the international Event Processing Technical Society.

The project produced another important system: SICU. Done in collaboration with researchers from Oracle Corporation (CA, USA), Utah Medical Center (UT, USA), and Whitehead/MIT Center for Genome Research (MA, USA), SICU is, as far as we know, the first system worldwide that integrates functionality from databases, data warehouses, medical sensors, and data mining. This integration, together with its highly customizable interface, lets SICU do two important things. First, it greatly reduces the number of false-positive and -negative alarms. Second, SICU is able to predict, with 68% accuracy, if a patient is going to have a cardiac arrest in the following 24 hours. This system, presented in multiple conferences or symposiums, has the potential to revolutionise Event Processing as well as Intensive Care Units systems. And can save many lives in the process.

SICU has won the BES Innovation Award, a yearly Portuguese prize that rewards innovation in five different areas (Energy, Health Technologies, New Materials and Industrial Processes, Biotechnology and Agro-industry, and IT and Services). Organized by 11 Universities, one newspaper, one radio, BES bank, the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation and some other organizations, the BES Innovation Award is a highly prestigious award. SICU won both its category award as well as the overall award for a total of over 60K€ in prizes.

Finally, BiCEP has also generated a spin-off company named FeedZai. FeedZai is a result of the direct conclusions of the project: CEP engines in the market are either too complex to use or change, cannot be used, are too expensive, or have a poor, unstable performance. FeedZai, founded in late 2008 by Pedro and two partners, is building FeedZai Pulse, to fill this gap. The company has already secured close to 500K€ in funding and consulting and is developing monitoring tools in the Utilities market.

For its entrepreneurial, integration, scientific results, and awards, BICEP is proving to be an aptly named strong project.