VLDB 2020 Tokyo 46th International Conference on Very Large Data Bases

VLDB2020: Panel

Panel - Winds from Seattle: Database Research Directions (Day 2, Block 2) [27P] & (Day2, Block 4) [37P]

Start at 2020-09-02T16:00:00Z Start at 2020-09-03T04:00:00Z (27P repeat)

  • Panelists: Peter Bailis, Magda Balazinska, Xin Luna Dong, Juliana Freire, Raghu Ramakrishnan, Michael Stonebraker
  • Moderator: Joseph M. Hellerstein


The database research community has been notably successful in impacting the industry and academia since the invention of the relational model. Examples of innovation in the last decade include columnar storage for data analytic platforms, cloud data services, HTAP systems, and a new generation of data wrangling systems. Despite this success, critical self-assessment by the community and identifying key opportunities for the future is essential if we are to continue the tradition of impactful research. In the Fall of 2018, following a long tradition that dates back to 1988 [1], and five years after the last such meeting [2], a group of approximately thirty database researchers gathered at the University of Washington, Seattle for two days to discuss the opportunities we have as a community for impactful research. A report from that meeting is now available [3]. The discussions in the Seattle meeting focused not just on technical challenges and opportunities but also on topics related to how we organize ourselves as a community. This VLDB panel follows on from a previous discussion at SIGMOD 2020 [4], to provide a forum for the broader database community to review and debate the findings from the Seattle Report on Database Research [3] as well as to identify other challenges, and opportunities that need to be taken into account. Since the introduction of Bitcoin – the first widespread application driven by blockchains – the interest in the design of blockchain-based applications has increased tremendously. At the core of these applications are consensus protocols that securely replicate client requests among all replicas, even if some replicas are Byzantine faulty. Unfortunately, these consensus protocols typically have low throughput, and this lack of performance is often cited as the reason for the slow wider adoption of blockchain technology. Consequently, many works focus on designing more efficient consensus protocols to increase throughput of consensus.

We believe that this focus on consensus protocols only explains part of the story. To investigate this belief, we raise a simple question: Can a well-crafted system using a classical consensus protocol outperform systems using modern protocols? In this tutorial, we answer this question by diving deep into the design of blockchain systems. Further, we take an in-depth look at the theory behind consensus, which can help users select the protocol that best-fits their requirements. Finally, we share our vision of high-throughput blockchain systems that operate at large scales.