News Column

Patent Issued for Data Flow Visualization and Debugging

June 17, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Information Technology Newsweekly -- According to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews journalists, a patent by the inventors De Smet, Bart (Bellevue, WA); Meijer, Henricus Johannes Maria (Mercer Island, WA), filed on October 19, 2011, was published online on June 3, 2014.

The assignee for this patent, patent number 8745591, is Microsoft Corporation (Redmond, WA).

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Data is retrieved from a database by querying for it. The query is typically written in a query language that declaratively specifies what is to be retrieved. The query expression is typically processed by a query processor, which determines the query's execution plan, the sequence of steps that will be taken to retrieve the requested data. There can be more than one query plan for a particular query, each returning the same results but having different execution plans. The database server typically chooses the execution plan that is expected to yield the results in the shortest possible time, called query optimization.

"Debugging query expressions can be challenging, in part due to the declarative nature of a query expression. As a result, it is hard to visualize the data flowing through different stages of query execution, e.g., filtering, projection, sorting and so on. Moreover, query execution can be deferred, which means that the actual execution of the query can take place at a different time and in a different context than that in which the query is defined."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "The flow of data can be visualized when a computation is executed by instrumenting the computation without altering behavior of the computation. The computation can be captured as a data structure. The data structure derived from the computation can be rewritten to include a trace point call after each source retrieval and operator call operation. Each call can generate one or more events that can be received by an observer to visualize computation state during execution of the computation.

"The computation can be a database query expression. The query expression can be captured as an expression tree. A query plan graph can be constructed from the expression tree with nodes of the graph representing intermediate sequences of data and edges of the graph representing query operators. The query plan graph can be visualized in a user interface. The expression tree can be instrumented with trace points that dispatch notifications triggered by the passing of data and other events to an observer such as a debugger or tracer. During execution of the instrumented expression tree created from the query expression, data can be tagged with a trace identifier that identifies the source of the data. A query can be re-executed by caching inputs.

"This Summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used to limit the scope of the claimed subject matter."

For more information, see this patent: De Smet, Bart; Meijer, Henricus Johannes Maria. Data Flow Visualization and Debugging. U.S. Patent Number 8745591, filed October 19, 2011, and published online on June 3, 2014. Patent URL:

Keywords for this news article include: Microsoft Corporation, Information Technology, Information and Data Architecture.

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Source: Information Technology Newsweekly

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