Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mergeable Persistent Data Structures

Benjamin Farinier et. al. (PDF) (via Adrian Colyer):

Distributed version-control systems (DVCSs) are widely used to manage the source code of software projects. These systems are at the core of any workflows to produce and maintain large software stacks that involve many branches of development and maturity. DVCSs are used to keep track of change provenance and help to relate newly discovered bugs in the software to the context of the modification of the source-code which caused it.

We wish to see the same kind of workflow applied to data as well as source code. What if you could version-control a (mutable) persistent data structure, inspect its history, clone a remote state and revert it to a previous state? We find that using the existing tools around source-code DVCS and applying them to application data results in significant benefits to developing distributed applications. Instead of structuring our system like a conventional database, we instead provide the functionality as a library that can be linked and customised directly by the application logic.

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