Hiring guide for Datalog Engineers

Datalog Developer Hiring Guide

Datalog is a declarative programming language dedicated to database queries and reasoning. It was originally developed in the 1970s as a subset of Prolog, a logic programming language, for deductive databases. The language allows users to make queries and assertions about information stored in a database system (Ceri, Gottlob & Tanca, 1989). Datalog's syntax and semantics are simpler than those of Prolog, making it easier to optimize query execution (Ullman, 1989). Despite its age, Datalog continues to be used in modern applications such as data integration, network management and software analysis.

Ask the right questions secure the right Datalog talent among an increasingly shrinking pool of talent.

First 20 minutes

General Datalog app knowledge and experience

The first 20 minutes of the interview should seek to understand the candidate's general background in Datalog application development, including their experience with various programming languages, databases, and their approach to designing scalable and maintainable systems.

How would you define Datalog?
Datalog is a declarative logic programming language that serves as a query language in deductive databases. It is based on the logic programming paradigm, which is a subset of declarative programming.
What are the basic components of a Datalog program?
A Datalog program consists of a finite set of rules. Each rule is a clause of the form A :- B1, ..., Bn, where A and Bi are atomic formulas.
Describe the difference between Datalog and SQL.
Datalog is a non-procedural query language, while SQL is a procedural one. This means that in Datalog, you specify what you want without specifying how to get it. In SQL, you have to specify how to get what you want.
How would you use recursion in Datalog?
Recursion in Datalog is used to express transitive closure, among other things. For example, the ancestor relation can be defined in terms of the parent relation using recursion.
What are the benefits of using Datalog?
Datalog provides a more expressive power than traditional query languages like SQL. It allows for more complex queries and can handle recursive queries, which SQL cannot.
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What you’re looking for early on

Does the candidate demonstrate a strong understanding of Datalog?
Has the candidate shown experience with database management systems?
Can the candidate solve problems using Datalog?
Does the candidate have experience with logic programming?

Next 20 minutes

Specific Datalog development questions

The next 20 minutes of the interview should focus on the candidate's expertise with specific backend frameworks, their understanding of RESTful APIs, and their experience in handling data storage and retrieval efficiently.

How would you handle negation in Datalog?
Negation in Datalog is handled using the not operator. However, it's important to note that Datalog handles negation under the stable model semantics, which is different from the classical logic negation.
What are the limitations of Datalog?
Datalog does not support arithmetic operations or built-in predicates for ordering. It also lacks the ability to express certain queries that can be expressed in SQL.
Describe the difference between Datalog and Prolog.
Datalog and Prolog are both logic programming languages, but Datalog is a subset of Prolog. Datalog lacks some of the features of Prolog, such as arithmetic and explicit ordering of goals, but it has a well-defined declarative semantics, unlike Prolog.
How would you implement aggregation in Datalog?
Aggregation in Datalog can be implemented using auxiliary predicates. However, it's not as straightforward as in SQL, and it requires a more complex encoding.
What are the applications of Datalog?
Datalog is used in a variety of applications, including data integration, network monitoring, program analysis, and security. It's also used as a query language in some NoSQL databases.
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The ideal back-end app developer

What you’re looking to see on the Datalog engineer at this point.

At this point, a skilled Datalog engineer should demonstrate strong problem-solving abilities, proficiency in Datalog programming language, and knowledge of software development methodologies. Red flags include lack of hands-on experience, inability to articulate complex concepts, or unfamiliarity with standard coding practices.

Digging deeper

Code questions

These will help you see the candidate's real-world development capabilities with Datalog.

What does this simple Datalog rule do?
ancestor(X, Y) :- parent(X, Y).
ancestor(X, Y) :- parent(X, Z), ancestor(Z, Y).
This Datalog rule defines the 'ancestor' relation. It states that if 'X' is a parent of 'Y', then 'X' is an ancestor of 'Y'. Additionally, if 'X' is a parent of 'Z' and 'Z' is an ancestor of 'Y', then 'X' is also an ancestor of 'Y'.
What does this Datalog rule do?
sibling(X, Y) :- parent(Z, X), parent(Z, Y), X != Y.
This Datalog rule defines the 'sibling' relation. It states that if 'Z' is a parent of both 'X' and 'Y', and 'X' is not the same as 'Y', then 'X' and 'Y' are siblings.
What does this Datalog rule do with the collection?
max(X) :- num(X), not exists num(Y), Y > X.
This Datalog rule finds the maximum number in a collection. It states that 'X' is the maximum number if 'X' is a number and there does not exist a number 'Y' that is greater than 'X'.
What does this Datalog rule do with concurrency?
conflict(X, Y) :- write(X), write(Y), X != Y.
This Datalog rule defines a 'conflict' relation in a concurrent system. It states that a conflict exists between 'X' and 'Y' if both 'X' and 'Y' are write operations and they are not the same operation.

Wrap-up questions

Final candidate for Datalog Developer role questions

The final few questions should evaluate the candidate's teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. Additionally, assess their knowledge of microservices architecture, serverless computing, and how they handle Datalog application deployments. Inquire about their experience in handling system failures and their approach to debugging and troubleshooting.

How would you optimize a Datalog program?
Optimizing a Datalog program involves techniques like magic sets, tabling, and incremental evaluation. It's also important to consider the order of rules and goals, as it can have a significant impact on performance.
What are the challenges in implementing a Datalog engine?
Implementing a Datalog engine involves challenges like handling recursion, optimizing query evaluation, and dealing with negation and aggregation. It also requires a good understanding of the semantics of Datalog.
Describe the difference between Datalog and functional programming languages.
Datalog is a logic programming language, while functional programming languages are based on the lambda calculus. The main difference is that Datalog is declarative, meaning you specify what you want without specifying how to get it, while in functional programming, you have to specify how to get what you want.

Datalog application related

Product Perfect's Datalog development capabilities

Beyond hiring for your Datalog engineering team, you may be in the market for additional help. Product Perfect provides seasoned expertise in Datalog projects, and can engage in multiple capacities.