MDX and DAX-compare and contrast

MDX and DAX are both promoted as analytical languages.  Despite the initial confusion when DAX was announced, Microsoft sees both as a part of its BI strategy (at least, that’s what it told us last time we asked…).  So far, so good.  You want to keep up with the Microsoft approach to the BI world, so the obvious answer is to learn both.  And, let’s face it; they can’t be too dissimilar can they?  They are, after all, both analytical languages. 

Well it turns out they are very different.  Indeed, it would be difficult to imagine two languages, both designed to analyse data, that were more unalike.  This begs a number of questions.

“Why are they so different?”

“What fundamental features make them so different?”

“Who are they aimed at?”

“Given my interests and current skill set, which one should I learn first?”

“How can a single company come up with two such different languages?”

 “Who is to blame?”

Who can I sue about this?”

“Was it anything to do with the phone hacking scandal?”

This talk will answer all but the last three questions.  It is not designed to turn you into an expert in either language but it should give you a clear idea about the fundamental design principles behind both, what each was designed to do, how well it does it and if either or both are worth learning.  

Presented by Mark Whitehorn at SQLBits IX
Tags SSAS , BI , security , DAX , DAX
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    Mark Whitehorn

    Mark Whitehorn specialises in the areas of data science and BI.  .


    Mark works with national and international companies, designing databases and BI systems.  In addition to his consultancy practice he has also acted as an expert witness for the police in cases of computer fraud.


    He is a well-recognised commentator on the computer world, publishing articles, white papers and eleven books on database and BI technology. The first one, Inside Relational Databases has been selling well since it was published in 1997 and is now in its third edition. It has also been translated into three languages. Another of his books FastTrack to MDX was co-written with the inventor of the language, Mosha Pasumansky. 

    Mark is also an associate with QA Ltd.  He developed the company's database analysis and design course as well as its data warehousing course and teaches both.

    On the academic side, Mark is a Professor at the University of Dundee where he designed and runs a Masters course in BI.  There he also works with the prestigious Lamond labs. applying BI to proteomics.  In addition he is a research associate at the University of Cambridge. There he is involved in an international research project analysing the hitherto unknown data that was available to Darwin before he wrote The Origin of Species. This group has used BI techniques to rewrite our understanding of how Darwin came to develop the theory of evolution.

    For relaxation he collects, restores and races historic cars which keeps him out of too much trouble. He only wears a tie under duress, doesn't possess a suit that fits and unashamedly belongs to the beard-and-sandals school of computing.
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