Aspiring Researchers, Engineers, and Entrepreneurs interested in data: This Book is for You

Making Databases Work is a collection of chapters written by leading database researcher and enterpreneur Michael Stonebraker and 38 of his collaborators: world-leading database researchers, world-class systems engineers, and business partners.

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By Nikolaus Bates-Haus, Lead Architect, Tamr, Inc.

Making Databases Work

I’ve followed Michael Stonebraker’s work for decades, and had the privilege of working closely with him for the past six years. His contributions to the refinement and spread of database management technology are hard to overstate. I’m honored to have contributed a chapter to the new book surveying his career: Making Databases Work: The Pragmatic Wisdom of Michael Stonebraker.

Making Databases Work is a collection of 36 chapters written by Mike and 38 of his collaborators: 23 world-leading database researchers, 11 world-class systems engineers, and four business partners. It celebrates the accomplishments that led to his 2014 ACM A.M. Turing Award “for fundamental contributions to the concepts and practices underlying modern database systems.” The book describes, for the broad computing community, the unique nature, significance, and impact of Mike’s achievements in advancing modern database systems over more than forty years.

As a young assistant professor at the University of California—Berkeley, Mike worked with colleague Eugene Wong to develop INGRES, the first practical relational database system. Since then, he has been central to the database community,   both academically at Berkeley then MIT, and as a serial entrepreneur. I am lead architect of his newest venture, Tamr,  Co-Founded with Andy Palmer and Ihab Ilyas.

Tamr’s mission is to help enterprises unify key data from many silos to maximize strategic and operational benefits. Excited by this promise, I joined Tamr in April 2013 to build the engineering organization and deliver the first commercial version of the technology. My personal motivation to join Tamr was that tackling the challenge of data variety would be the culmination of a decades-long career working with data at large scale, at companies such as Thinking Machines (on the Darwin Data Mining platform), Torrent Systems (a parallel ETL [extract, transform, load] system), and Endeca (on the MDEX parallel analytic database). I’ve seen messy data foil far too many projects and, after talking to the Tamr co-founders about their aspirations, saw that Tamr would provide the opportunity to apply those decades of experience and thinking to fundamentally change the way we approach data.

Because we were breaking new ground with Tamr, we faced many challenges, technical and otherwise. The chapter I contributed looks at some of the most vexing challenges, how we overcame them, lessons learned, and some surprising opportunities that emerged as a result.

Today, data is considered the world’s most valuable resource, and it is crucial for researchers, engineers, and entrepreneurs to understand it. For anyone interested in the big data phenomenon and how it will shape the future, Making Databases Work is a must-read.