Michael Stonebraker, 2014 ACM A.M. Turing Award Recipient (cacm.acm.org/magazines/2015/6/187326)
00:00 DR. STONEBRAKER: The difference between the rubber meeting the sky and the rubber meeting the road is what the real world thinks... So I mean I pay a lot of attention to what real-world practitioners -- the problems they think are important and that they want to solve.
00:22 [Intro graphics/music]
00:32 Processors, storage, memory. Their exponential advances over the last 45 years would mean little without efficient ways to store and manage the information they process.
00:48 This is where Dr. Michael Stonebraker shines, turning critical ideas into reality again, and again, and again. He's the recipient of the 2014 ACM A.M. Turing Award. In addition to being ACM's most prestigious technical award, it conveys a cash prize of $1,000,000. That's four times its previous level, thanks to the support of Google Inc..
01:15 DR. STONEBRAKER: So, I joined the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley in 1971. And as you know very well, you have to "pubish or perish" to get tenure. And my Ph.D. thesis, I had realized, was not going to go anywhere. So I needed something new to do. And my colleague at Berkeley, Gene Wong, said, "Why don't we look at data structures?". And we read Ted Codd's pioneering paper, which appeared in CACM in 1970. And it made perfect sense.
01:52 The result was Ingres, which in the mid-1970s was one of only two relational database programs available. The other was IBM's System R, led by Jim Gray.
02:05 DR. BARBARA LISKOV: Actually the work that Jim did was contemporaneous with the work that Mike did. ...And both of them were working on projects that were trying to figure out whether they could make the notion of relational databases into a practical idea. Prior to either of these awards, Ted Codd won an award for the notion of relational databases.... But it was not at all clear how you could turn that promising theoretical notion into a system that would really work in practice.
02:35 As the world grew beyond Ingres, so did Dr. Stonebraker. In 1987 he first demonstrated Postgres -- a database still widely in use today. As with Ingres, he formed a company to support it.
02:50 DR. STONEBRAKER: If you're in databases, the ultimate arbiter of what's a good idea is the commercial marketplace.
02:58 And yet Dr. Stonebraker has stayed close to academic research since graduating from UC Berkeley. He remained there as a professor, before taking his current place at MIT in 2001. Through it all, he's been active in ACM.
03:14 DR. STONEBRAKER: I've been a member of ACM since 1971 -- continuously! I think they're a wonderful society. I think SIGMOD is a terrific organization.
03:27 In recent years his innovations have included C-store, H-store, and SciDB -- each of which improves database speeds by as much as 100 times. Consistent with his ability to marry theory with practice, he's formed companies for each of them.
03:44 DR. STONEBRAKER: I would encourage academics to pay attention to the real world, at least in those fields where the ultimate arbiter is real world applications.
03:58 The Association for Computing Machinery sincerely thanks Michael Stonebraker for all he's done, and congratulates him on being the 2014 recipient of the ACM A.M. Turing Award.
04:13 We're pleased to feature his life and work in the June 2015 issue of Communications of the ACM. A banquet in San Francisco celebrates him, along with recipients of this year's other ACM awards.
04:28 [Outro and credits]