$1Million Turing Prize Awarded To Database Innovator
Written by Sue Gee   
Thursday, 26 March 2015

The ACM has announced that MIT's Michael Stonebraker is the recipient of the 2014 ACM A.M. Turing Award as a "pioneer in database systems architecture."

 

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The ACM A.M Turing Award is widely considered the "Nobel Prize in Computing", and as announced last Fall now carries with it a cash prize of $1 Million, four times its previous level, funded by Google.  

According to the ACM's announcement:

Michael Stonebraker is being recognized for fundamental contributions to the concepts and practices underlying modern database systems.  Stonebraker is the inventor of many concepts that were crucial to making databases a reality and that are used in almost all modern database systems. His work on INGRES introduced the notion of query modification, used for integrity constraints and views. His later work on Postgres introduced the object-relational model, effectively merging databases with abstract data types while keeping the database separate from the programming language.

Stonebraker's implementations of INGRES and Postgres demonstrated how to engineer database systems that support these concepts; he released these systems as open software, which allowed their widespread adoption and their code bases have been incorporated into many modern database systems. Since the pathbreaking work on INGRES and Postgres, Stonebraker has continued to be a thought leader in the database community and has had a number of other influential ideas including implementation techniques for column stores and scientific databases and for supporting on-line transaction processing and stream processing.

Commenting on the award, Alan Eustace, Google Senior Vice President of Knowledge, said: 

“The efficient and effective management of Big Data is crucial to our 21st century global economy. Michael Stonebraker invented many of the architectures and strategies that are the foundation of virtually all modern database systems.”

Having done his work on Ingres and Postgres at the University of California, Berkeley, Michael Stonebraker is now researcher at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) where he is co-director of the Intel Science and Technology Center for Big Data. 

 

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Photo: MIT

 

His major projects at MIT include: 

  • C-Store, a column-oriented database that partitions tables by column, allowing delivery of dramatic performance speedups for reading large quantities of data.

  • H-Store, a parallel database management system that can deliver a high sustained rate of operations (“transactions”) per second.

  • SciDB, which represents data as arrays and provides substantially improved performance for many modern analytics settings, such as machine learning and statistical data processing.

 

According to CSAIL, Stonebraker sometimes jokes that he didn’t know what he was researching for more than 30 years:

“But then, out of nowhere, some marketing guys started talking about ‘big data'. That’s when I realized that I’d been studying this thing for the better part of my academic life.”

Referring to the Turing Award, Stonebraker says:

“It’s every computer scientist’s dream to get this award, and I am so very honored to be selected. It reinforces and validates the importance of the work that I have been doing alongside so many other researchers in the field of database management systems.”

More Information

ACM A.M. Turing Award

Michael Stonebraker wins $1 million Turing Award

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 26 March 2015 )