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I'm wondering what are recent advances in relational database theory and related domains?

I'm interested in new approaches, query languages (alternatives to SQL and/or extensions to it), products (proprietary and open source, though I'm much more interested in open source) and research projects developed in last years.

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In db query area arguably Provenance Semiring enjoyed the most attention recently. The "provenance" adjective is just marketing connecting it to a large body of research. Nevertheless the idea that one may have much more elegant mathematical foundation for database query languages is compelling. My personal view is that semiring perspective (which works wonders in formal language theory) has to be complemented with Relational Lattice.

Here is another view of what happened in the last decade. (The speaker holds a record of continued PODS admittance:).

On less theoretical note lets mention Dedalus, and plenty of Tutorial D enthusiasts; both, however, are hardly the recent ideas.

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The biggest "advance" in relational databases has been the cleaving apart of the monolithic RDBMS model into discrete components, that are then put together in novel ways. These include data stores that have weak consistency (Google Percolator), column stores (NoSQL), and graph databases. The ideas are not new, but the different ways of combining the components are novel.

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current major shift in db architecture is rise of key-value stores which seem to distribute/scale easier over the cloud (or new highly multicore chips) than relational db's & work well in large modern web sites such as facebook. they are now provided/supported on the basic cloud service sites ie amazon/google app engine. see eg:

is the relational database doomed? ReadWriteWeb

Many-Core Key-Value Store Berezecki,Frachtenberg,Paleczny [Facebook], Steele [Tilera]. a paper examining a key-value db & measuring performance statistics on various multicore chips from 4 (intel xeon) to 64 (tilera)

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