Friday, April 23, 2010

Data Explosion - Great Story

I got this story from Scott Cameron of Hitachi Consulting, although I've heard it before:

The story of the man who invented chess can help illustrate the problem of data explosion.

The man lived in India, and according to legend his name was Sessa. The king of India was very impressed with the game of chess and asked Sessa to name his reward. Sessa's request was so modest that it offended the king: He asked simply for one grain of rice for the first square of his chess board, two grains for the second square, four grains for the third, and so forth, doubling the number of grains of rice for each of the 64 squares of the board. Of course, by the time the king's magicians calculated the total amount of rice needed to pay the reward, they realized that it would require a warehouse 3 meters by 5 meters by twice the distance to the sun to pay the reward.

The king gave Sessa a sack, pointed him to the warehouse and told him to go count out his reward - no rush.

When numbers increase geometrically (like they do in a data warehouse), they get large very quickly.

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