2015 SIGMOD Jim Gray Doctoral Dissertation Award presented to Alexander Thomson

March 16, 2015

The ACM Special Interest Group on the Management of Data (SIGMOD) has presented the 2015 SIGMOD Jim Gray Doctoral Dissertation Award to Alexander Thomson. Thomson completed his dissertation titled “Deterministic Transaction Execution in Distributed Database Systems” at Yale University under the supervision of Daniel Abadi. The thesis provides a novel system architecture to address a challenging problem in distributed database systems, namely providing scalable support for transactions. The thesis proposes an interesting and surprisingly simple idea: choose the serialization order of transactions up front, and execute the transactions deterministically according to this order. Deterministic execution reduces the amount of coordination required for distributed transactions, which significantly improves scalability. Thomson develops this idea into a complete system and shows that it is remarkably effective for distributed databases and also for file systems. The work is innovative and combines sound principles with solid design and implementation, resulting in a thesis that has already made its mark on the database community.

About the SIGMOD Jim Gray Dissertation Award

The annual SIGMOD Jim Gray Dissertation Award recognizes excellent research by doctoral candidates in the database field. Ten outstanding dissertations were nominated by their departments this year. The dissertations were evaluated by the SIGMOD Jim Gray Dissertation Awards Committee for technical depth and significance of the research contribution, potential impact on theory and practice, and quality of the presentation. All submissions were of extremely high quality and we congratulate all the nominated PhD graduates and their departments for their excellent work and contributions to our field.

The Awards Committee: Juliana Freire (co-chair), Tova Milo (co-chair), Ashraf Aboulnaga, Minos Garofalakis, Chris Jermaine, Renee Miller, Aditya Parameswaran, Andy Pavlo, Kian-Lee Tan