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Keith Jeffery: "Database Research Issues in a WWW and GRIDs World"

The WWW has made information update fast and easy, and (through search engines such as Google) retrieval fast and easy.
The emerging GRIDs architecture offers the end-user complete solutions to their simple request involving data and information, computation and procesing, display and distribution. By comparison conventional database systems and their user interfaces appear clumsy and difficult. Nonetheless, experience with WWW has taught us that fast and easy can also equate with information that is inaccurate, imprecise, incomplete and irrelevant. To overcome these problems there is intensive research on 'the semantic web' and 'the web of trust'. The GRIDs environment is being developed to include Computer Science fundamentals in handling data, information and knowledge. The key aspects are representativity of the data and information - accuracy, precision, structure (syntax), meaning (semantics) - and expressivity of the languages to represent and manipulate the data, information and knowledge - syntax, semantics. There are related issues of security and trust, of heterogeneity and distribution and of scheduling and performance. The key architectural components are metadata, agents and brokers. Access to the GRIDs environment will be from ambient computing clients; this raises a host of new problems in security and performance and in information summarisation and presentation. There remains an exciting active research agenda for database technology.