Shell, Limit Point work on commercial ‘SheafSystem’

Successful GameChanger trials lead to abstract data ‘munging’ system take-up.

Limit Point Systems (LPS) and Shell Global Solutions are to develop a technology road map for oil and gas for LPS’ ‘sheaf’ data technology (Oil IT Journal June 2012). The ‘SheafSystem’ has been under trial in Shell’s GameChanger program. Shell’s Hans Haringa said, ‘GameChanger has had a long relationship with LPS and has funded several sheaf technology for oil and gas applications. We believe the technology is now mature enough to start exploring its application in oil and gas and in many other industries.’ The project will gather input from prospective customers, both within Shell and at other organizations, draft a technology development road map, and propose a development plan.

But what the heck is the sheaf? We quizzed LPS president, David Butler who explained, ‘The sheaf is not a data format. It is an abstract model, rather like a relational database, for math data. It has particular application what is known as data munging—performing data transformation chores between applications. Sheaf-based transformations also parallelize well across multi-core architectures.’

We suggested that the sheaf sounded rather like Hadoop. Butler agreed that the sheaf is an abstract data model that can be deployed in many different contexts, but claimed that it is better for math data than the ‘text-oriented’ Hadoop. He suggested that use cases might include manipulating seismic velocity models for processing or for reformatting data from geomechanical tetrahedral meshes to cellular models for the reservoir engineer. Butler claims that such transforms see several orders of magnitude speed-up with the sheaf approach. Checkout the LPS patent on 1801 and visit Limit Point.

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