MapD Blog: Thoughts on databases, data visualization, and GPUs

For some of us, summer is synonymous with salt water and waves. For many others, the sea is a year-round occupation. The US has 12,383 miles of coastline and 95,471 miles of shoreline, and it buzzes with billions of trips each year, all tracked by the US Coast Guard. Our latest demo of MapD Core and MapD Immerse reveals the vast scope of marine activity around America’s shores–everything from the tracks of commercial freighters to the patrols of military vessels to the lazy p... read more

Today, with great pride, MapD is announcing a partnership with the Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis (CGA). We will be working with CGA to build new geospatial functionality into the MapD Core database, to improve hydrological modeling and visualization and allow for more accurate flood prediction and water-supply estimation. By combining CGA’s geospatial expertise with our team’s knowledge of high-performance analytics, we hope to build MapD into an even better platform... read more

We’re excited to announce our newest addition to the MapD executive team. Aaron Williams joins us today as VP of Global Community, responsible for fostering our growing developer, user and open source communities. He will lead our team of developer advocates and community managers. Aaron is an industry veteran in the building and growth of software communities, having led ecosystem efforts for some of software’s most familiar platforms. He previously led the open source launc... read more

Based on the deluge of commercials and ads in this competitive industry, it seems every major player claims that they do. The competition is apparently so fierce that even their spokesmen are being headhunted. Admittedly, it can be a bit confusing when you find these results in one city: And these in another: By the way, how do you even define ‘best’ network? It’s a loaded question for sure. We’ll get back to that in a minute. Who cares? It’s a question with relevance to near... read more

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We’re delighted to announce the availability of Vega, the JSON specification for creating custom visualizations of large datasets. Using Vega you can create server-rendered visualizations in the community version and enterprise versions of MapD. MapD Vega is based on the open-source Vega specification developed by Jeffrey Heer and his group at the University of Washington. We’ve adapted the original specification to the MapD platform so you can use the power of SQL to inves... read more

This week we release version 3.1 of MapD, which comes after some truly giant news over the last few weeks, and adds a number of useful new features. First, we’ve brought into Immerse a feature from the MapD Core Rendering Engine called Density Gradient, which helps you spot areas of concentration when you’re looking at visualizations of big data. For example, let’s say you’re looking at the New York City street grid and trying to find the heaviest areas of taxi drop-offs. B... read more

One of the things we are most excited about as a newly open source company is the potential to help kickstart a larger ecosystem of GPU computing. This is why we are particularly excited about our work with Continuum Analytics and to found the GPU Open Analytics Initiative (GOAI) and its first project, the GPU Data Frame (GDF), as our first step toward an open ecosystem of end-to-end GPU computing. A revolution is occurring across the GPU software stack, driven by the... read more

Since starting work on MapD more than five years ago while taking a database course at MIT, I had always dreamed of making the project open source. It is thus with great pleasure to announce that today our company is open sourcing the MapD Core database and associated visualization libraries, effective immediately. The code is available on Github under an Apache 2.0 license. It has everything you need to build a fully functional installation of the MapD Core database, enabl... read more

We’re very happy to announce that with today’s release of version 3.0 of the MapD Analytics Platform we're bringing GPU-accelerated analytics onto distributed clusters! We’ve been hard at work for months to extend the unique advantages of our SQL-compliant GPU database from being able to run on one server to now being able to scale across multiple servers, allowing our customers to take on even larger datasets while still maintaining the fluid, instant data exploration experi... read more

The MapD Immerse visual analytics client has a core feature we refer to as crossfilter, which allows a filter applied to one chart to simultaneously be applied to the rest of the charts on a dashboard. This provides a natural interface for data exploration, allowing a multi-dimensional view of data even as a user drills deep into a dataset. From a technical perspective, crossfiltering is not difficult (on the surface). Behind each Immerse chart is a SQL statement. When an e... read more

Today I’m proud to announce that MapD Technologies has secured $25M in funding in a Series B round lead by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) with participation from NVIDIA, Vanedge Capital, and Verizon Ventures. This new investment will allow MapD to scale up its engineering, sales, and marketing teams to accelerate product development and deepen customer adoption. It will help us move faster toward our vision of making GPU-powered analytics ubiquitous in the enterprise. There... read more

Organizations are visualizing and exploring data in ways we once only associated with science fiction films. Analysts live a world with access to a plethora of data visualization and reporting tools. Long gone are the days of Excel charting as the primary means for visualizing data. As the toolkit has evolved, the amount of data we collect and analyze has exploded. Websites and phone apps track a user’s every click or swipe. IoT devices record the location of every vehi... read more

Creating charts in the MapD framework can happen in a number of different ways. All of them involve our hyper-fast GPU-powered, SQL-compliant, relational database, MapD Core. To start with MapD Immerse has a large library of standard charts to choose from as you build your dashboards. These include line, bar, pie, histograms, chloropleths, scatter plots and point maps. One can also use MapD’s published API to create entirely custom front ends on top of MapD Core. Finall... read more

We felt it wasn’t fair that only features in our major releases were getting the limelight, so this will be the first in a series of short blog posts featuring an interesting feature or improvement in our regular minor releases of MapD’s GPU-accelerated Core database and Immerse visualization software. This week, we celebrate the addition to Immerse of a tool known to cowboys and data analysts across the land: the lasso tool. Named after the looped rope which tamed the West,... read more

Back when we started the current incarnation of the MapD Core database, we wrote our own parser (written using flex and GNU bison), semantic analysis and optimizer. This approach offers the most control since everything in the pipeline can be adjusted to the unique needs of our system, but we've realized that our main strength lies in the actual execution of the queries. In the context of the limited resources of a startup, we have to pick our battles. We soon faced a dilemma... read more

Continuing where we left off in our earlier post on MapD 2.0’s Immerse visualization client, today we want to walk you through some of version 2.0’s major improvements to our GPU-accelerated Core database and Iris Rendering Engine. Before we delve into the details, main themes for this release are: speed, robustness, and further visual analytics power. Our system is able to steadily deliver extremely fast query speeds across a larger set of SQL queries and when analyzing dat... read more

The taxi dataset is one of the most popular on our site and for good reason, it is not often that you can get behind the wheel of a supercomputer for free. Still, without direction, it can be hard to uncover the insights in the data that often give our audiences a rush. With that in mind we will be creating a series of these “cheatsheets” to help you grasp the power of speed at scale. Each post will talk about how to interact with the GPU-powered relational database (MapD... read more

While 2016 was the year of the GPU for a number of reasons, the truth of the matter is that outside of some core disciplines (deep learning, virtual reality, autonomous vehicles) the reasons why you would use GPUs for general purpose computing applications remain somewhat unclear. As a company whose products are tuned for this exceptional compute platform, we have a tendency to assume familiarity, often incorrectly. Our New Year’s resolution is to explain, in language desig... read more

2016 was a pretty amazing year for MapD. Not only did we launch our company with the announcement of our A Round of funding in late March, but we were able to steadily build on that event throughout the year, culminating in the release of our 2.0 version of the product just nine months later. In the interim, we were fortunate to pick up some prestigious awards including Gartner Cool Vendor, Fast Company Innovation by Design, The Business Intelligence Group’s Startup of the... read more

After many months of hard work, refinement and improvement, we’re very happy to announce the release of version 2.0 of the MapD Core database and Immerse visual analytics platform. This is the result of a valuable collaboration with our users and customers since our public launch in March, and is designed to give them even more of the analytical power, ease of use and GPU-accelerated speed that they’ve become used to in our first version. Today we want to walk you through so... read more

A couple of months back we hosted a BrightTALK webinar with Sam Madden, MIT Professor and Chief Scientist at Cambridge Mobile Telematics. Sam is a remarkably smart individual and was a founder (alongside the legendary Michael Stonebraker) of Vertica. Sam's use of MapD at Cambridge Mobile Telematics is really interesting as the team there is using massive amounts of data to develop driving models that help price insurance, identify risk and establish bragging rights (well may... read more

This morning Google Cloud announced the upcoming availability of powerful, innovative GPU instances. As a an beta tester of the new offering we had the opportunity to take the instances for a spin and test them out against the 1.2 billion row taxi dataset. We were impressed. The instances boast per minute pricing flexibility, excellent configurations and an innovative SSD approach that processes cold loads five times faster than other solutions we have seen. The net of th... read more

A common question faced in the petabyte economy is when, and how, to embrace a distributed, scale out architecture. I will argue here that it makes sense to push for the simplest and cheapest solution that will solve the problem. This seems like an obvious statement, but I’ve encountered a surprising number of companies that do otherwise, shifting to large clusters long before they are necessary. Here’s why that’s not always a correct strategy. First, some basic facts. Th... read more

Down the stretch they go. While the race continues to tighten this week, one thing is pretty certain - it will be over next week. What is obscured in the vitriol, the accusations and the gaffes, however, is that money still fuels the American political process. Despite the emergence of a billionaire candidate, this cycle is no different - the money is as prevalent as ever. Citizens United remains the law of the land and both parties are hip to the game despite rhetoric to... read more

Today we are pleased to announce that In-Q-Tel, the non-profit strategic investor that identifies innovative technology for the U.S. Intelligence Community, participated in our previously announced Series A round. IQT joins previously announced investors GV (formerly Google Ventures), Nvidia, Vanedge Capital, and Verizon Ventures. Needless to say, we are delighted to be able to publicly announce IQT’s participation. IQT has established itself as one of the savviest inves... read more