A Conversation with Bruce Lindsay - ACM Queue

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2024-06-10 02:00:03

If you were looking for an expert in designing database management systems, you couldn’t find many more qualified than IBM Fellow Bruce Lindsay. He has been involved in the architecture of RDBMS (relational database management systems) practically since before there were such systems. In 1978, fresh out of graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley with a Ph.D. in computer science, he joined IBM’s San Jose Research Laboratory, where researchers were then working on what would become the foundation for IBM’s SQL and DB2 database products. Lindsay has had a guiding hand in the evolution of RDBMS ever since.

In the late 1980s he helped define the DRDA (Distributed Relational Database Architecture) protocol and later was the principal architect of Starburst, an extensible database system that eventually became the query optimizer and interpreter for IBM’s DB2 on Unix, Windows, and Linux. Lindsay developed the concept of database extenders, which treat multimedia data—images, voice, and audio—as objects that are extensions of standard relational database and can be queried using standard SQL (Structured Query Language). Today he is still at work deep in the data management lab at IBM’s Almaden Research Center, helping to create the next generation in database management products.

Our interviewer this month is Steve Bourne, of Unix “Bourne Shell” fame. He has spent 20 years in senior engineering management positions at Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems, Digital Equipment, and Silicon Graphics, and is now chief technology officer at the venture capital partnership El Dorado Ventures in Menlo Park, California. Earlier in his career he spent nine years at Bell Laboratories as a member of the Seventh Edition Unix team. While there, he designed the Unix Command Language (“Bourne Shell”), which is used for scripting in the Unix programming environment, and he wrote the ADB debugger tool. Bourne graduated with a degree in mathematics from King’s College, London, and has a Ph.D. in mathematics from Trinity College in Cambridge, England.

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