Database Pioneer Stonebraker Wins Turing Award, Including $1 Million

Michael Stonebraker, the MIT computer scientist who created multiple companies based on his foundational work in database management systems, has won the A.M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery.

The award, now funded by Google, includes a $1 million prize, up from $250,000 in recent years. The association selected Stonebraker, who is a researcher at the school’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, because of his work pioneering database technology and “inventing many of the concepts that are used in almost all modern database systems.”

Stonebraker’s work has spawned nine businesses he has helped create and manage. The most recent is Tamr. That company received a $16 million Series A round in 2014 for its efforts helping companies manage and connect their many data sources.

Others companies include VoltDB, Paradigm4, and Vertica, a database management business that stores numbers in columns rather than rows. Vertica was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2011 for $340 million.

Stonebraker, who is receiving the award June 20 in San Francisco, spent 29 years at the University of California at Berkeley, where he developed influential database systems, Ingres and Postgres. The researcher’s work there, and after he left Berkeley for MIT in 2001, centered on what eventually became marketed as big data, a term that Stonebraker came to view as “hackneyed.”

“Out of nowhere, some marketing guys started talking about ‘big data,’” he said in a prepared statement. “That’s when I realized that I’d been studying this thing for the better part of my academic life.”

The award is named after British computer scientist Alan Turing, whose life and accomplishments were detailed last year in the Hollywood movie “The Imitation Game.”

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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