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Remembering Jim Gray

It was just over a year ago -- Jan. 28, 2007, to be exact -- that Microsoft research fellow and Turing Award-winner Jim Gray went missing off the coast of California, during what was supposed to be a solo day trip on his 40-foot sailboat Tenacious. Despite an extensive search of the waters off the San Francisco bay, Jim Gray and his boat were never found.

The loss was a devastating one for the development community. Gray was a leading light in the area of database development and transaction processing. He helped create many of the technologies that are today at the heart of modern database and transaction processing systems. In 1995, Gray joined Microsoft to found and manage the Microsoft Bay Area Research Center (BARC), where he worked on a variety of projects. Among them was the Microsoft TerraServer Web site, which provided high-resolution, satellite-based photos of the earth years before Google Earth.

Now, a year after Gray went missing, the Association of Computing Machinery (the organization that holds the Turing Awards), the IEEE Computer Society and the University of California-Berkeley have joined to announce a tribute to Gray, planned for May 31 at the UC Berkeley campus. Jim Gray attended UC Berkeley from 1961 to 1969 and earned the school's very first Ph.D. in computer science.

Fittingly enough, the tribute will also feature technical sessions for registered participants. You can find more information about the tribute here.

Mike Olson, Oracle's vice president of embedded technologies, is scheduled to speak at the event about the search effort for Gray. In a statement released today, he said: "It is important to note that this is a tribute, not a memorial. Many people in our industry, including me, are deeply indebted to Jim for his intellect, his vision and his unselfish willingness to be a teacher and a mentor."

Posted by Michael Desmond on 02/05/2008

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