PoP Seminar Talk

Replacing SQL and Improving on the Relational Database Model

Michael J. Sullivan, Lead Compiler Engineer at EdgeDB
Thursday, 10 November, 2022; 3:00pm
GHC 8102
Host: Jan Hoffmann


EdgeDB is a new database built around an evolution of the relational model that we call “graph-relational”. In the graph-relational model, data is represented as strongly typed objects containing set-valued scalar properties and links to other objects. Missing values are represented in the language as empty sets (no NULL!), and have consistent semantics. The query language, EdgeQL, supports convenient fetching and modification of nested data. EdgeQL queries are composable: queries can be used without restriction as subexpressions and bound to variables. EdgeDB is open source and is implemented on top of PostgreSQL. The compiler maps EdgeDB’s graph-relational schemas to Postgres schemas and compiles EdgeQL queries into Postgres’s flavor of SQL.


Michael (Sully) Sullivan is the lead compiler engineer at EdgeDB. Previously, he worked at Dropbox on the mypy typechecker for Python and was a principal developer of the mypyc compiler for typed Python. He completed his Ph.D at Carnegie Mellon University in 2017, advised by Karl Crary, writing a thesis on the design and implementation of a new language memory model for low level concurrency.