David Luckham, inventor of CEP
Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University

What is CEP?

Complex Event Processing (CEP) is an emerging technology for building and managing information systems. The goal of CEP is to enable the information contained in the events flowing through all of the layers of the enterprise IT infrastructure to be discovered, understood in terms of its impact on high level management goals and business processes, and acted upon in real time. This includes events created by new technologies such as RFID.

Visit the comprehensive CEP website.

Other articles by Dr. Luckham:

BAM And CEP: A Marriage Of Necessity Or: Why BAM Must Use CEP
BAM Providers As Online Banking Fraud Preventers
The Beginnings of IT Insight: Business Activity Monitoring
Grand Visions For e-Commerce Require Solving 'IT Blindness'
Avoiding Disasters Waiting To Happen
"/> Taking the Fear out of Complex Event Processing

Some people, I’m told, get scared when they hear the word “complex”, as in “Complex Event Processing” (CEP). They want to hear “simple” event processing — or so some IT marketing people tell me. They say there is a feeling that software systems have gotten too complicated and non-programmers can’t use them anymore. Well, let’s understand what a “complex” event is.



Start with a basic question, is life simple? Most people will truthfully answer, “no”. Events happen in life that are neither simple in how they happen, nor in the effects they have. We all know that. We face complex events every day of our lives. Take the December 26, 2004 Indonesian Tsunami. It was a very complex event, and NOAA has very sophisticated simulations to explain how that event happened. And its effects are continuing as we speak.

If you want a technology that can deal with life, or in your case, with all of the events in the business and IT infrastructures upon which your enterprises depend, that technology will have to deal with complex events. You can’t talk your way around that fact by using some other word, like “simple” or “composite”!

CEP is a foundational technology for detecting and managing the events that happen in event driven enterprises. One of the first objectives of CEP is to help us understand the events in the enterprise. Only when we understand what is happening, or going to happen, can we plan and take action. CEP provides techniques to help in taking action too.

Here are some of the basic concepts aimed at achieving understanding:

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