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MIT computer science researcher wins ACM Turing Award

Michael Stonebraker, a researcher at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, won the 2014 Association for Computing Machinery’s (ACM) A.M. Turing Award for fundamental contributions in modern database systems on March 25.

With Google’s support, the prize money was increased from $250,000 to $1 million, ACM announced last year. The award is often referred to as the “Nobel Prize for Computing.”

“Stonebraker is responsible for much of the software foundation of modern database systems and originated many of the key concepts of data management used in nearly all database systems today,” ACM said.

Ingres and Postgres are considered to be his most influential work and serve as the foundation for several modern commercial database systems. Before “open source” was something people talked about, Stonebraker released these systems as open software, ensuring their widespread adoption.

Ingres, one of the first relational database systems, revolutionized query language design, processing techniques, access methods, and concurrency control. It now serves as an industry standard for business storage. Postgres introduced object-relational modeling and integrated ideas from object-oriented programming.

Stonebraker’s work helped motivate the “big data” industry. He has created and led a number of database companies, including Tamr, Paradigm4, and VoltDB. As a principal investigator at CSAIL, he has been involved in the development of the database systems C-Store, H-Store, and SciDB. He currently is also a co-founder and co-director of the Intel Science and Technology Center for Big Data.

Stonebraker has received several other awards, including the Software System Award, the SIGMOD Edgar F. Codd Innovations Award, and the IEEE John von Neumann Medal. He was also inducted as an ACM fellow in 1994 and as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 1997.

Stonebraker will be presented the ACM Turing Award on June 20 in San Francisco.

—Amy Wang